Addressing Pandemic Needs

An Ordinary Year in Review

By: Jacquelyn M. Rose, MPH

In an ordinary year, I develop a work plan to guide the strategic priorities and efforts of Childhood Prosperity Lab, which oversees the social innovation efforts of Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health (the Office). The plan enables me to map out the various streams of work the Lab engages in, assess whether resources are distributed appropriately, anticipate and plan against hurdles and challenges, proactively manage key partnerships, and identify opportunity areas. I knew the 2020 work plan would be different from previous years, but had no idea how different it would be.

Embarking on an Ordinary Year

In December 2019 and January 2020, I anticipated my greatest challenge for the year would be introducing and soliciting buy-in for the Office’s newly designed and rebranded social innovation efforts. Formerly known as the Advancing Kids Innovation Program, we rebranded as the Childhood Prosperity Lab (the Lab) in January 2020. The rebranding provided an effort to simplify the Lab’s vision and mission, clarify the stakeholder groups we seek to engage, and streamline the services offered in order to more effectively and succinctly communicate the goals, intentions, rationale, and values driving our social innovation efforts. While I was confident in everything we created, I was unsure how the Lab would be received by existing and potential stakeholders.

 Learn more about the launch of Childhood Prosperity Lab.

In addition to creating visibility and traction for the Lab, I wanted to begin laying the foundation for the Lab to become a national resource for advancing innovative strategies that help all children flourish, thrive, and succeed by focusing on four priority areas:

  • Partnerships: develop new or enhance existing partnerships with changemakers who are creating solutions to the social, environmental, and behavioral challenges that children and families face that are more effective, sustainable, and equitable than current approaches.
  • Evaluation: develop and begin implementing a strategy to understand and document the Lab’s ability to cultivate and advance innovative strategies that help all children reach their full potential. 
  • Case Examples: enhance the Lab’s storytelling capacity by developing case examples that demonstrate our capacity to meaningfully advance social innovations that address critical, contemporary child health, development, and well-being needs.
  • Sustainability: identify strategies and resources needed to support the Lab’s continued sustainability and efforts to help all children prosper.

When an Ordinary Year Became Something Else

While I knew our work plan for 2020 was ambitious and that meeting all of the goals would be challenging, what I did not anticipate was doing this work in the midst of ever-changing, complex, unprecedented circumstances of which no one could have planned against:

  • A novel coronavirus leading to a global pandemic that resulted in the loss of over 2,000,000 lives around the world, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
  • Renewed national and international visibility and engagement in the Black Lives Matter movement after the killing of George Floyd. The political will and movement building project was initiated in response to the 2013 acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, according to Black Lives Matter.
  • A contentious presidential campaign and election that resulted in a new president and our nation’s first Black, Asian American, and female vice president, and a violent and deadly protest at the U.S. Capitol Building as lawmakers met to certify the election results.

Thriving in a Not-So-Ordinary Year

Rays of inspiration, and innovation did emerge throughout the year, and I am thankful the Lab had a chance to support meaningful change and have a positive impact in the midst of so much uncertainty. The Lab’s work in 2020 included the following:

“Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.”  – Thomas Edison

Turning Not-So-Ordinary Into Ordinary

2020 was an unprecedented year for a number of reasons. While our original plans may not have panned out as expected, I am proud of all that we accomplished and the impact we had. I am also hopeful this is what an ordinary year for the Lab will look like – partnering with changemakers to cultivate and advance innovative strategies that address barriers negatively impacting the health, development, and well-being of children so that we can help all children prosper. 

Are you a changemaker developing innovative strategies that promote children’s optimal health, development, and well-being? We want to hear from you! Send us an email at

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.

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