PECD Learning Collaborative: Getting to Know You

Suzanne Brundage, program director of the Children's Health Initiative, lays out the goals and agenda of the first Learning Collaborative session.
How do disparate organizations build a working relationship when they don't know each other well, if at all? That's one of the great challenges for UHF's newly launched Partnerships for Early Childhood Development (PECD). Each of 11 participating New York City hospitals or health systems has joined forces with one or more community-based agencies, which in many cases they'd never worked with before, to identify and address social and economic risks to the health of children ages 0-5 that they serve.

The challenge was addressed head on at the first group meeting of PECD participants on May 25, part of a year-long UHF-sponsored Learning Collaborative. The 41 attendees' shared purpose and enthusiasm helped break down barriers as they brainstormed their agendas. To illustrate their ambitions, each partnership imagined how a New York Times headline might sum up their success five years from now:

Health care and community providers brainstorm on goals, assets, and approaches to addressing risk factors to children's health.
Record High Literacy Rates in the South Bronx
Partnership Proves Supporting Families Leads to Sustainable Gains in Child Development
No Family Left Hungry in Coney Island
Queens Children Thrive by 2025: A Comprehensive Wellness Model for Primary Care
Most of the day was spent discussing the tools that would help them get from here to those headlines. Participants shared screening tools, referral and care coordination protocols, and technologies for exchanging information across sites. And they discovered synergies and parallels, despite the diversity of needs and the unique populations served by each of the partnerships.

To help attendees determine how best to deploy resources, Jennifer March, executive director of the Citizens' Committee for Children of New York, discussed mapping tools that can align children's risk factors with community resources. The group homed in on barriers that can prevent children and families from accessing available resources in their communities, such as language, transportation, and neighborhood safety.

Jennifer March, executive director of the Citizens Committee for Children of New York, with UHF President Jim Tallon.
The day's discussions weren't just about how to help New York City's youngest and most vulnerable residents. The attendees also focused on building trust—between doctor and patient, families and service providers, and, crucially, between project partners. Seamless communications, data sharing, and strategies for referrals and follow up will be key to building that trust, and to ultimate success, they agreed.

PECD is jointly funded by UHF, the Altman Foundation, and The New York Community Trust. The participating pediatric primary care practices serve more than 26,000 children a year in New York City; UHF expects they will refer more than 7,000 children and their families to services during the coming year. The ultimate goal: to ensure that all young children in the city receive the interventions that can optimize their long-term health and well-being, readying them for success in school and in later life. There will be two more in-person Learning Collaborative meetings at UHF, four webinars, and a monthly newsletter focused on sharing national research, innovations, and funding opportunities. Finally, because measurement and evaluation is an important part of the initiative, a common evaluation framework will be built, focused on the screening, referral, and feedback loop process.