Farm parents, insurers, youth organizations and others increasingly turn to the unique capabilities of the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, to help ensure the safety of the next generation of farmers.

Recognizing the role played by the National Children’s Center in the steady decline of childhood agricultural nonfatal injury rates over the past decade, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) announced Sept. 25 that it’s awarding the Center a $1.2 million per year competitive grant renewal for a five-year cycle.

NIOSH has funded the National Children’s Center since 1997. It also is supported by Marshfield Clinic and through generous donations and other grants.

The National Children’s Center is a program of the National Farm Medicine Center, Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation (MCRF).

“This major award will significantly expand our efforts to integrate proven safety strategies into programs of organizations and businesses that are best-positioned to influence the safety of children living and working on farms,” said Barbara Lee, Ph.D., National Children’s Center director. “We expect to facilitate partnerships with private sector organizations such as agricultural employer associations, insurance companies, bankers and youth-serving groups. We want to ensure that optimal safety interventions and guidelines are sustained beyond the span of the grant period.

“Innovative approaches will address safety for beginning farmers and ranchers; child care services for migrant and seasonal farm worker parents; and supervisor training of youth hired for agricultural employment.”

While the overall decrease in childhood nonfatal injury rates is encouraging, a child is killed in a farm accident an average of every three days, indicating there’s work to be done. Also of concern is the injury rate for children younger than age 10 is increasing.

The new NIOSH grant includes seven distinct projects, along with administrative, scientific and evaluation oversight. Principal investigators from MCRF include Lee; Barbara Marlenga, Ph.D.; Matthew Keifer, M.D.; and Casper Bendixsen, Ph.D. External principal investigators include Amy K. Liebman, Migrant Clinicians Network; Dennis Murphy, Ph.D., Penn State University; and Diane Rohlman, Ph.D., University of Iowa.