It was truly inspiring to see so many dedicated child service professionals attend our statewide Care Coordination Forum: Transforming Children’s Healthcare in Our Communities. This forum, with support from the Connecticut Health Foundation, was a first of its kind initiative to enhance awareness about the importance of connecting children and families to programs and services that can improve their lives.
The goals of this forum were to support care coordinators and their work through knowledge sharing and networking opportunities, to support the person centered medical home by increasing the care coordination capacities of pediatric community providers, and to facilitate awareness about the racial and ethnic disparities facing children and their families, and how the social determinants of health can impact health and wellbeing.
We had more demand than available seating; a “problem” I found encouraging because this demonstrates how critical care coordination is to the welfare of children and their families. Providing care coordination ensures optimal quality while minimizing cost, encouraging family centered care, and demanding partnerships across public and private sectors. Our attendees came from diverse backgrounds: nurses, social workers, physicians, early childhood educators, social services, behavioral and mental health professionals, parents, and oral health advocates, just to name a few.
At Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, we have a unique understanding of the impact that care coordination can have on children and families. Our Connecticut Children’s Center for Care Coordination, which organized the forum, has made care coordination a priority for children for decades.
Initially, we focused our efforts on children with complex medical conditions but recently expanded to serve all children, including those who are at risk for developmental or behavioral problems due to poverty and other challenging circumstances in which they live.
To take our efforts a step further, we piloted an innovation to bring care coordinators together from around the Hartford area into a regional collaborative to share activities, priorities, and capacities across entities, encourage synergy and cooperation, minimize redundancy and duplications, and to identify and address gaps in care and systems’ issues that impact the children and families we care for. This innovation has now been disseminated and replicated across the state with funding and support from the Connecticut Department of Public Health.
We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from our participants. We hope that they left the forum with an increased knowledge of the critical importance of care coordination, the availability of statewide care coordination services, and an increased understanding about the resources that are available for children and families.
Based on the success of this forum, we are hoping to convene a similar forum in the future.
Susan Roman, RN, MPH, is the program director for the Connecticut Children’s Center for Care Coordination.