Our Partnerships for Early Childhood Development initiative connects pediatric practices at hospitals across the city to community organizations with the goal of addressing psychosocial risks to children from infancy to age five, a formative period shaping lifelong health and functioning.

The first phase of the project involved 11 hospitals and 18 community organizations. Participating practices screened all families of young patients for one or more risks—such as food insecurity, unsafe housing, and parental depression—and then connected families to social service organizations for help.  United Hospital Fund, together with the Altman Foundation and The New York Community Trust, provided $703,062 in support. These funds included direct grants to the clinical-community teams and support for a learning collaborative that brought participants together to share best practices and experience.  A UHF report, Clinical-Community Partnerships for Better Health: Observations from New York City’s Partnerships for Early Childhood Development Initiative, reviewed the progress and challenges of the project’s first year, during which teams screened 5,534 families.

United Hospital Fund has now launched a second phase of the project. The same three funders are providing $709,122 for grants to eight of the original participating hospitals and community partners to fine-tune and expand their work and to continue the collaborative learning sessions.

The PECD Team
Suzanne C. Brundage

Suzanne C. Brundage is a public health and health care strategist committed to creating the conditions in which children and families thrive. She is the director of UHF’s Children’s Health Initiative, which was established to strengthen health care’s focus on health disparities rooted in childhood. 

Through a dual focus on service delivery and policy, Suzanne has worked on a range of issues including social determinants of health and education; primary care; Medicaid; and substance use disorders. She is a trusted collaborator, thought partner, and consensus builder for many organizations and individuals nationwide focused on strengthening systems for families. She was named the first Patricia S. Levinson Fellow at UHF for her work to improve health care for vulnerable populations. 

Before working at UHF, Suzanne was the assistant director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. She has worked with a wide range of health nonprofits and safety net institutions, including Healing Through Remembering in Northern Ireland, Catholic AIDS Action in Namibia, Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, and Boston Medical Center. Suzanne is a member of the Bennington College Board of Trustees and the national Children’s Health Leadership Network. In 2018, she was named to City & State New York’s “40 Under 40” list and Crain’s New York’s list of 100 notable women in health care. 

She holds a BA from Bennington College in conflict resolution and international affairs and an MS in health policy and management from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Deborah Halper, MS, MPH

Deborah Halper is vice president and the director of the Fund's Division of Education and Program Initiatives.  She is responsible for the management, development, and implementation of the Fund's grantmaking activities and three program areas: Families and Health Care Project, Aging in Place Initiative, and Quality Improvement.  She leads special grantmaking initiatives, including improving Palliative Care, Day of Transitions, and reducing hospital readmissions.  She is also responsible for a range of convening activities, including the design of conferences, Health Policy Forum, and other educational programs. 

Prior to coming to the Fund, Ms. Halper worked as an administrator for clinical resources at Mount Sinai Hospital. 

She holds a master's degree in public health and an MS in urban planning from Columbia University.

Chad Shearer is the Senior Vice President for Policy and Program at United Hospital Fund, supervising work in the Medicaid Institute and in UHF’s Innovations, Health Insurance, and Children’s Health programs. Previously, Mr. Shearer was at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs at Princeton University, where he served as deputy director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s State Health Reform Assistance Network, a project coordinating technical assistance to 11 states on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion provisions. He was also a lecturer in public affairs at the university, teaching a capstone policy workshop.

Mr. Shearer also was senior program officer at the Center for Health Care Strategies, where he helped shape its Medicaid Leadership Institute, an intensive training program for selected state Medicaid directors. Before that, he served as legislative director for Congressman Pete Stark, who was Chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, in the United States House of Representatives.

Mr. Shearer holds both a law degree and a master’s of health administration from the University of Iowa.