Many things we need can wait. The child cannot.
—Suzanne Brundage director, UHF’s Children’s Health Initiative
On March 2 United Hospital Fund launched the third phase of its Partnerships for Early Childhood Development (PECD) initiative, an innovative effort to help New York-area pediatricians partner with community organizations in order to address the social and economic factors that influence the health and well-being of young children.
Some 35 health professionals and social service providers from the eight participating health systems and their community partners attended a half-day workshop, sharing their experiences and lessons learned from their first two years of PECD and plans for the third year.
PECD started in 2017; during the initiative’s first two years the pediatric practices built the infrastructure and community partnerships needed to screen children and their families for social needs—such as food insecurity, inadequate housing, and parental education—and connect them with community-based organizations that could offer the appropriate interventions. It was a huge undertaking, given that most of the clinicians and community partners had never worked together and didn’t know each other. Few screening protocols were in place and there was no infrastructure for collecting information about the social needs of patients, or for referring families to community services.
The teams have come a long way, and at the meeting were able to share how they did it. Their social needs programs are now robust, encompassing routine screening and referrals. Most of the partnerships now hold regularly scheduled weekly or monthly meetings to discuss patients, share progress, and solve problems. For the third phase, they will evaluate whether these partnerships are making a meaningful difference in families’ lives.
Dr. Benard Dreyer, Bellevue Hospital and NYU School of Medicine
PECD chairman Dr. Benard Dreyer, director of the Division of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics at NYU School of Medicine and director of pediatrics at Bellevue Hospital, led the discussion after telling attendees: “If you want to build strong children, you have to build strong families.” Attendees recounted both their successes and ongoing challenges while learning about strategies for gathering data for a planned PECD survey to evaluate and quantify patient outcomes.
Attendees also learned how to assist in making sure their patients are counted in the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census. It is crucial that every child be counted, Carlos Rosales, Community Outreach and Engagement Associate with Citizens Committee for Children, told attendees. “The census is about money, it’s about power, and it’s about representation,” he said, and explained in detail how health care and social service providers can contribute to a strong Census count.
Carlos Rosales, Citizens Committee for Children
The teams also learned about NYC Health + Hospitals’ Integrated Model for Children and Families Together from Dr. Marion Billings, a pediatrician with Gouverneur Health, while Suzanne Brundage described UHF’s new Pediatrics for an Equitable Development Start (PEDS) Network, due to launch this spring.
Dr. Marion Billings, Gouverneur Health
During the first two years of the PECD project, the participating teams conducted over 12,000 screenings for social determinants and referred almost 3,000 children and their families to community partners. Funding for the third phase is provided by UHF along with The New York Community Trust, the Altman Foundation, and the William J. and Dorothy K. O’Neill Foundation.
Phase III partnerships
• BronxCare Health System with Phipps Neighborhoods
• Cohen Children’s Medical Center (Northwell Health) with The Child Center of NY and Interfaith Nutrition Network
• NYC Health + Hospitals/Gouverneur with Educational Alliance, Grand Street Settlement, Henry Street Settlement, and University Settlement
• Mount Sinai Health System with New York Common Pantry and LSA Family Health Service
• NewYork-Presbyterian/Charles B. Rangel Community Health Center with Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership
• NewYork-Presbyterian Queens with Public Health Solutions
• St. John’s Episcopal Hospital with Sheltering Arms and Family Resource Center Queens
• NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn with Family Health Centers at NYU Langone Brooklyn, Neighbors Helping Neighbors, and New York Legal Assistance Group