MMI researchers partner on parent-support web app

by Charlie Litton, UNeMed | October 19, 2020

Image with caption: Rosie Zweiback, associate director of the MMI Department of Education and Child Development

Rosie Zweiback, associate director of the MMI Department of Education and Child Development

The headquarters for a popular parenting web application will relocate to Nebraska from Pennsylvania to be closer to research partners at UNMC's Munroe-Meyer Institute.

The web app -- Keys to Interactive Parenting Scale (KIPS) -- is dedicated to supporting and providing resources to early childhood development professionals.

The KIPS program helps train workers who support families to assess 10- to 20-minute play sessions between parents and their children. The results are then used to chart progress and guide caregivers to more beneficial outcomes.

"Programs across the world use KIPS," said Rosie Zweiback, associate director of the MMI Department of Education and Child Development. "It really helps people who work with families."

Zweiback and Barbara Jackson, PhD, the department director at MMI, have been "power users" of the KIPS web app from the beginning, and were a major factor in relocating the KIPS headquarters to Omaha.

Appsky, a custom software development and design agency in Omaha, acquired the KIPS program as a part of Appsky's new venture capital division, Appsky Ventures.

"I saw an amazing opportunity with KIPS," said Appsky founder and CEO Taylor Korensky. "It's a chance to learn and develop our infant fund, and a way to improve and rework a really important tool with our technology."

At more than 10-years-old, the software behind KIPS needs upgrades. In the process, updating the software creates an opportunity to allow for more accessibility and greater impact for a more diverse range of users.

The original developers planned to retire and initially asked Dr. Jackson and Zweiback to take over the application.

But maintaining and upgrading a web application was beyond the researchers' scope of expertise.

"This is wonderful tool, but if we couldn't find a home for it, it would've gone away," Dr. Jackson said.

Michael Dixon, PhD, the president and CEO of UNeMed, UNMC's technology transfer and commercialization office, reached out to Appsky.

"Appsky looked into it and they loved it," Dixon said. "They're a great partner for us. They can run the technical side, and that leaves the academic side to focus on more research that gives us even greater insights into parenting and early child development."

Dr. Jackson and Zweiback have been using KIPS for the past 10 years, and will work with Appsky to update more than 10 hours of training modules and other features.

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Carol Russell
October 29, 2020 at 3:46 PM

Rosie, So good to see you if only in a picture. Thank you for what you do for the children of Omaha. Carol Russell