United Hospital Fund Launches Second Phase of Early Childhood Development Initiative to Address Social and Economic Factors Affecting Children's Health

United Hospital Fund today announced that it is launching the second phase of its Partnerships for Early Childhood Development (PECD) initiative, which partners New York-area pediatric primary care practices with community-based organizations to better address the social and economic factors affecting the health of very young children.

PECD was launched in March 2017 with funding from a collaborative consisting of United Hospital Fund, the Altman Foundation, and The New York Community Trust. The first phase of the initiative was designed to help pediatric primary care practices screen children ages 0-5 for social and environmental risks that interfere with healthy development, and connect them, through partnerships with community-based organizations, with services that can address those risks.

In the second year of the program, 8 of the 11 original partnerships will continue to develop and streamline their screening and referral processes and improve strategies for assisting families to reach needed services. Altman and The Trust are again joining with UHF to support the project, with the three organizations providing total funding of $709,622.

The funding includes support for UHF to continue operating a Learning Collaborative, as it did in Phase I, to provide participating hospitals and community organizations with resources, training, technical assistance, and a forum for sharing partners' experiences.

There is widespread consensus among physicians and childhood development experts that adversity and stress in early childhood can cause long-term damage to the physical and mental health of young children, resulting in poorer educational outcomes. By screening for such health risks as food insecurity, unsafe housing, parental depression, adult employment needs, and household literacy—often referred to as social determinants of health—the pediatric practices participating in PECD have been able to identify vulnerable children and their caregivers and connect them through their community partners to appropriate services and supports.

In the first phase of the initiative, participants conducted over 5,500 screens for social and psychological needs related to healthy child development, and made 643 referrals to community partners. On average, over one-third of all screens found that a family had at least one unmet social need, with some teams reporting that 60 percent and even 84 percent of screened families needed services. The participating pediatric practices reported that many of these needs would have been unlikely to surface during a routine clinical visit, and that their relationship with a community partner made them far more comfortable in their ability to address those issues.

“Nearly half of New York City's kids live at or near the poverty line, and are at risk of lifelong poor health because of the toxic stresses they are exposed to,” said Suzanne Brundage, director of UHF's Children's Health Initiative, Patricia S. Levinson Fellow at UHF, and head of PECD. “Phase I of the project identified promising techniques and approaches for addressing those needs through sustainable and strong clinical-community partnerships. With Phase II we seek to strengthen those partnerships to ensure that families who want help, get help.”

The clinical partners in Phase II of PECD are BronxCare Health System; Cohen Children's Medical Center (part of Northwell Health); The Mount Sinai Hospital; NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center; NewYork-Presbyterian Queens; NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham, Gouverneur Health; NYU School of Medicine/Family Health Centers at NYU Langone; and St. John's Episcopal Hospital.

Each health system will partner with and provide financial support to one or more community-based social services partners. Partnership teams are committed to tracking referral outcomes for patients, and continuously improving the pathway between referral and service provision.

“Experts agree that clinical health care plays a relatively small role in an individual's health,” said Altman Foundation Senior Program Officer, Health, Rachael N. Pine, JD. “To address the many challenges that children and families confront in pursuit of improved health, medical providers and community social service organizations must work together, yet these cross-sector relationships are not easy to craft, implement, and expand. We are proud to be able to support this second phase of PECD in which eight pediatric clinics will deepen their exploration of how, working with their community partners, they can best advance children's health by partnering to address related social needs.”

Irfan Hasan, program director at The Trust, said “The New York Community Trust is pleased to support Phase II of the PECD project along with United Hospital Fund and the Altman Foundation.” He added, “beyond the fact the project continues to develop strong hospital-community agency partnerships, we are particularly pleased to support this effort using The Trust's Katherine Sloan Pratt Fund. We believe Ms. Pratt, who passed away in 1968, would be particularly proud of how her fund at The Trust—which seeks to support hospitals—is being used to address issues relevant to the current day.”

Consultants from New York University School of Medicine will conduct an external evaluation of some of the PECD sites to assess the collaborations, the screening and intervention techniques used, and their sustainability.

“We are committed to both improving the health and well-being of children and strengthening partnerships between the health system and community organizations,” said UHF President Anthony Shih, MD, MPH. “Phase II of Partnerships for Early Childhood Development will continue to expand these efforts, advancing our goal of ensuring that every child in the city has the opportunity to grow up safe and healthy.”

About United Hospital Fund

United Hospital Fund works to build a more effective health care system for every New Yorker. An independent, nonprofit organization, we analyze public policy to inform decision-makers, find common ground among diverse stakeholders, and develop and support innovative programs that improve the quality, accessibility, affordability, and experience of patient care. For more on our initiatives and programs please visit our website at www.uhfnyc.org and follow us on Twitter.

About Altman Foundation

Founded in 1913 by Benjamin Altman, the mission of the Altman Foundation is to support programs and institutions that enrich the quality of life in New York City, with a particular focus on initiatives that help individuals, families, and communities benefit from the services and opportunities that will enable them to achieve their full potential. With a focus on vulnerable populations, the Foundation awards grants in the areas of Education, Health, Strengthening Communities, and Arts and Culture. For more information about the Altman Foundation please visit our website at www.altmanfoundation.org.

About The New York Community Trust

The New York Community Trust is committed to promoting healthy lives, promising futures, and thriving communities for all New Yorkers. We are the community foundation for New York City, Westchester, and Long Island—with a permanent endowment dedicated to improving our region through strategic grantmaking, civic engagement, and smart giving. Through our competitive grants program, made possible with money left to us by bequest, we fund programs that improve the lives of all New Yorkers, especially those most in need. For more information on The Trust, please visit our website at www.nycommunitytrust.org and follow us on Twitter