The Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health is dedicated to addressing critical contemporary issues in children’s day to day lives that have the potential to adversely affect their health and development. The Office is gaining national attention for its innovative programs and is serving as a role model for similar initiatives in other states.
The Office was launched in August 2012 and currently cultivates a variety of programs that address a wide range of issues impacting children including developmental delays, special needs, domestic violence, teen driving safety, teen suicide prevention, home hazards, asthma and sexually transmitted diseases.
“If we ask ourselves what really determines children’s well-being, the excellence of the medical and surgical services we provide—while critically important—accounts for only ten percent of children’s health and development outcomes,” said Paul Dworkin, MD, executive vice president for community child health at Connecticut Children’s. “We must devise programs that address all of the factors that influence children’s healthy development.”
The Office’s programs directly support the Connecticut Children’s vision of making children in Connecticut the healthiest in the country. Here’s a closer look at some of the innovative programs launched in Hartford that have catapulted the Office to national prominence.
The Help Me Grow® National Center, innovated in Hartford and based at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, serves as a national resource for supporting the replication of Help Me Grow® systems throughout the country. Tested as a pilot project in Hartford in 1997, the program expanded statewide in 2002 and is also being replicated in other states around the country. Help Me Grow® links children who are at-risk for developmental or behavioral problems to helpful community services.
Easy Breathing©, a community-based asthma management program innovated at Connecticut Children’s, ensures children, families and physicians work together to manage asthma symptoms using national asthma guidelines. The program is available to children across Connecticut and is being replicated in other states around the country.
The Mid-Level Developmental Assessment innovation provides a new model for assessing children with mild or moderate developmental delays to determine which services would be most beneficial to them. Children with mild to moderate delays, or at risk for delays, are typically ineligible for publicly funded intervention programs, such as early intervention services or preschool special education programs. This assessment can efficiently determine their needs and ensure their connection to community-based programs through the Help Me Grow® system in Connecticut. Mid-Level Developmental Assessment has expanded statewide and is currently being replicated in other states.
Another innovation cultivated by the Office is the Care Coordination Collaborative Model. The model improves collaboration among care coordinators from diverse sectors including child health, early care and education, and family support and provides children and families with links to effective services. The model brings together care coordinators from several child-serving sectors for periodic meetings to learn about available services and how to help families access them, to review challenging cases and develop solutions for families, and to advocate for policy level solutions to help families address challenges they face connecting to services. Initially launched in the greater Hartford area, the program has expanded across the state of Connecticut and into additional states.
“Bringing people together all around a common mission has extraordinary benefits, none perhaps greater than the opportunity to think about new solutions and new innovations, pilot-test them, and ultimately sustain them,” said Dr. Dworkin.
The Office also supports other community-based initiatives that either provide direct services to children and families or work to improve children’s lives through research and education.
EDUCATION AND RESEARCH:
Educating Practices in the Community (EPIC)
Hartford Childhood Wellness Alliance
Injury Prevention Center
Person-Centered Medical Home (PCMH)
Practice Quality Improvement
Resident Education in Advocacy and Community Health (REACH)
Other children’s hospitals and the Children’s Hospital Association have taken notice of the impact being made by the Office and its programs. Several have even made site visits to Connecticut Children’s to get a closer look at the Office and its expanding mission.
“We have committed ourselves to be a national model for how an organization, such as Connecticut Children’s, elevates its status as a critical community resource,” said Dr. Dworkin. “We now have the capacity to encourage anyone—our staff, our faculty and even our community partners—to identify new solutions to critical contemporary issues. Our commitment is to help explore whether those solutions might be helpful, and if so, how do we bring them to scale?”