Promoting Health

Engaging Local Public Health Agencies and Community-Based Organizations to Promote Children’s Optimal Healthy Development

By: Jacquelyn M. Rose, MPH

Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health (the Office) and representatives from four of its programs had the opportunity to participate in the recent Connecticut Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting and Conference. The theme of this year’s meeting was “From Patients to Population Health – Disparities Matter.” The day included 32 public health presentations, rapid fire sessions, roundtable sessions, a poster session, networking opportunities, and two powerful keynote presentations from State Senator Doug McCrory and Mark Masselli, president and CEO of Community Health Centers, Inc.

The Office was honored to share how its work is addressing the social, environmental, and behavioral determinants of children’s health and wellbeing, while also bridging the gap between clinical care and population health initiatives. The Office gave one of three presentations during the State Population Health Initiatives session, which was moderated by Tekisha Everett, executive director of Health Equity Solutions. Scott Orsey, senior director of operations and strategy for the Office; Eminet Gurganus, manager of program implementation and evaluation; and I introduced the Office as a resource to local public health practitioners and community-based programs in the presentation “From Clinical Care to Population Health: The Story of Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health.” Scott described how the evolution of child health services informed the creation of the Office and what the role and function of the Office is in the medical center and community. Eminet described how the Office is operationalizing two of its core strategies, which are 1) strengthening existing internal community-oriented programs and the community-oriented programs of our partners and 2) facilitating synergy among internal community-oriented programs and the community-oriented programs of our partners. She also shared examples of how these efforts empowered community-oriented programs to form stronger partnerships with clinical operations and advanced a comprehensive systems approach to supporting children and families. I described the Office’s efforts to serve as an innovation incubator for promising approaches that improve short- and long-term health outcomes for children, and how our Advancing Kids Innovation Program partners with individuals and organizations developing and implementing innovative strategies to promote children’s healthy development, strengthen families, and support communities.

Representatives from the Office also facilitated one of five roundtable discussions, which were moderated by Millie Seguinot from the Southwestern Area Health Education Center and Melissa Touma from the Connecticut Department of Public Health. During the discussion, “Bridging Health and Community-Based Services: A Panel Discussion,” Kevin Borrup, associate director of Connecticut Children’s Injury Prevention Center; Eminet Gurganus, manager of program implementation and evaluation; Susan Roman, senior program manager of Connecticut Children’s Center for Care Coordination; and Tregony Simoneau, MD,  co-director of the Asthma Center and director of the Severe Asthma Clinic, provided critical insights into embracing a systems perspective to child and family health and wellbeing through a series of sequenced and structured questions. During the conversation, program leaders:

  • Shared how partnerships with a variety of entities, including non-traditional community child health partners such as the Connecticut Department of Transportation, can be leveraged to address health and wellbeing issues at the population level.
  • Described strategies to overcome barriers associated with breaking down silos between partners and across sectors.
  • Explained how they have engaged with children and families and used their perspectives to inform the work of programs and initiatives.
  • Provided examples of how they have leveraged external infrastructure, workforce capacity, or data resources to support and expand their efforts.
  • Articulated strategies to leverage national models and networks (such as Safe Kids Worldwide) to support local initiatives, and increase the visibility of local programs of regional and national significance.

In addition to learning about the experiences, strategies, and lessons learned from programs of the Office, participants also had the opportunity to share their experiences and solicit guidance and feedback from program leaders, and identify opportunities to collaborate with programs.

Through participation in professional conferences, the Office seeks to raise awareness about our work and the value provided to our community-based partners. The Office continues to build cross-sector relationships with organizations, agencies, and individuals in order to collectively promote children’s optimal healthy development.

Jacquelyn Rose, MPH, is the program manager for Connecticut Children’s Advancing Kids Innovation Program.

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