Social Innovation

Maximize Your Impact: Childhood Prosperity Lab

By: Jacquelyn M. Rose, MPH and Paul H. Dworkin, MD

Have you ever wondered what supports childhood prosperity? What is necessary to help children flourish, thrive and succeed? How to identify opportunities to enhance child health, development, and well-being? How to innovate strategies to leverage those opportunities? Or, how to scale and spread innovative strategies so they can have maximum impact?

Prosperity: “The condition of thriving or being successful.” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health (the Office) is excited to announce the launch of Childhood Prosperity Lab (the Lab). Leveraging the Office’s own experiences curating and growing innovative strategies, such as the Help Me Grow early childhood system model and the Care Coordination Collaborative Model, the Lab will strategically collaborate with changemakers as they wrestle with the questions above. In doing so, the Lab will support the development of innovative strategies while nurturing changemakers on their quest to reimagine how to promote child health, development and well-being.

Our Approach: Build Capacity and Transform Culture

Ideas and promising innovative strategies are only as strong as the people guiding their development. Here at the Lab, we give as much attention to changemakers as we do to their innovative strategies.

“Good ideas are common – what’s uncommon are people who’ll work hard enough to bring them about.” – Ashleigh Brilliant

Our approach is simple: engage, incubate, advance, nurture, resource, and assess. Here’s how it works.

At the Lab, we strive to meaningfully engage stakeholders so that we can support comprehensive system building and promote alignment across child-serving systems and sectors. Not all ideas are good when they are first conceived and benefit from thoughtful conversations with industry leaders, content area experts, and the like.

The Lab gives changemakers the opportunity to incubate their strategies with professionals who have experience designing, testing, implementing, evaluating, and scaling initiatives, and have expertise in child health, development, and well-being. During these mastermind sessions, changemakers socialize their strategies with our team and receive recommendations that further their development.

The Lab works to advance innovative approaches so that they can have maximum impact on children and families. To do this, the Lab engages changemakers in technical assistance and coaching that supports the continued growth or progress of strategies, and helps the changemaker achieve their desired level of impact.

Key to doing this work is individual mindset, organizational culture, and access to resources. The Lab empowers organizations serving and working on behalf of children to innovate by helping them nurture an organizational culture of innovation. Access to financial resources, human capital, technology, and the like are integral to support the evolution of innovative strategies.

Equally important, but often not as available or accessible, are tools and processes that support the evolution of innovative strategies. Leveraging the Office’s experiences, the Lab is developing, testing, and making available tools, processes, and other resources that enable changemakers to work more effectively and efficiently.

Finally, just as we encourage changemakers to evaluate the impact of their work, it is important for the Lab to assess and understand our capacity to support childhood prosperity by regularly evaluating what works, what does not work, and what we can do better by regularly tracking process and outcome measures and engaging in quality improvement.

Our Foundation: Key Pillars to Support Childhood Prosperity

Our goal in doing this work is simple: help all children flourish, thrive, and succeed. The Lab is founded in three pillars that uniquely position it to lead this work. The Lab focuses on incubating and advancing social innovations, which are solutions to the social, behavioral, and environmental problems that children too often face that are more effective and sustainable than current approaches. The social innovations that the Lab works to advance must embrace a population health approach that strengthens not only individuals, but entire populations of children, and supports the equitable distribution of outcomes. Finally, the Lab leverages a systems approach, which involves thinking through problems that negatively impact children and fixing the root causes of such problems at a system level.

These pillars take into account that there is no one driving factor influencing childhood prosperity, but rather that it is the combination of and connection between social, behavioral, environmental, and genetic influences that truly makes a difference. To successfully support childhood prosperity, we cannot support children in isolation from their surroundings. Rather, we must support children in the context of their surroundings by strengthening families and supporting communities.

Calling all changemakers: We want to hear from you!

Are you developing, testing, or scaling strategies that benefit children, strengthen families, or support communities? We want to connect with you. Send us an email at ChildhoodProsperityLab@ConnecticutChildrens.org. Tell us how you are promoting childhood prosperity and let us know how we can best help you to help children flourish, thrive, and succeed.

Jacquelyn M. Rose, MPH, is the program manager of the Childhood Prosperity Lab, which is a program of Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health.

Paul H. Dworkin, MD is executive vice president for community child health at Connecticut Children’s, director of Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health and founding director of Help Me Grow National Center. Dr. Dworkin is also a professor of pediatrics at UConn School of Medicine.  Learn more »

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