As detailed in Strategies 8 and 9 listed above, EHF supports community-based clinics and community-based organizations to embrace the importance of early childhood brain development and to prioritize primary prevention work with low-income families beginning before or at the birth of their children.
Whether in the clinic or community setting, we prioritize work that:
- Provides or connects expectant people and primary caregivers of children in the first three years of life to programs and resources that build knowledge of skill for, and support “serve and return” practice and other aspects of a safe, stable, nurturing, and responsive caregiver/child relationship
- Identifies instances of perinatal mood disorder or other behavioral health issues in expectant people and primary caregivers of infants and toddlers and provides effective referrals to or direct support that equitably addresses these issues
- Uses evidence-based or promising screening and/or evaluation tools to measure the clinical and/or social
impact on the caregiver, child, or on the caregiver/child dyad
In addition to the outcomes mentioned, emerging research and learnings from our program partners reinforce the importance of these facilitating factors:
- Sharing brain building science – including the strength-based aspects of relational health with expectant parents and caregivers of infants and toddlers
- Including parental behavioral health and equitable perinatal care, especially as it relates to building a foundation for optimal relational health
- Offering and/or supporting opportunities for caregivers to practice new brain-building skills with the child or children in their care
- Addressing parents’ feelings of isolation through group-based approaches that build community, knowledge, and skill
- Being consistently informed by and influenced by clients of the programs
- Taking an asset-based approach when supporting and sharing learning with parents and caregivers
- Having evidence of or attempting to measure change in caregiver/child relationship and/or interaction”
As we continue our work in this space, we are mindful of the many systems that impact families and their young children. While there is excellent and essential work taking place in the pre-K, formal and informal group childcare/early education, and child protection settings, we are not currently investing in those systems.