From home-visiting programs that help simplify the “why” and “how” of improving infant brain development to pilot projects connecting new moms to mental health services and healthy foods, EHF is investing $4.2 million in organizations that are finding new and different ways to help build healthy brains for babies and toddlers in Texas.
EHF’s investment includes grants to 13 organizations that are implementing a wide range of science-based practices for early childhood brain development during pregnancy and the first three years of a child’s life. These organizations operate in Houston, Austin, and several rural areas across the state. Since 2018, EHF has invested more than $20 million in programs focused on improving childhood brain development and strengthening relationships between young children and their parents and caregivers.
“When it comes to preventing future illness and disease, it doesn’t get any more upstream than giving the youngest Texans the best chance at a healthy life through important brain development,” said Dr. Ann Barnes, EHF’s president and CEO. “Many times, parents who go through these various programs say, ‘No one really told us this.’”
EHF’s investment is based on brain science showing that a child’s first three years offer a once-in-a-lifetime chance to not only promote early childhood brain development, but decrease the chance of developing serious illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression later in life.
The new grants include $300,000 for a pilot project at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston that connects low-income parents/caregivers of babies and toddlers to mental health services and emergency food assistance programs. The hope is that connection to those needed services leads to reduced stress, improved maternal-child bonding, and better children’s health outcomes.
Todos Juntos Learning Center in Austin will use $79,000 in EHF funding to support its Mi Familia and Me program that teaches the science of brain building to primarily immigrant parents in Central Texas. The program includes classes on how to become a child’s first teacher, interactive music and dance activities to stimulate brain development, peer-to-peer support groups, and much more.
EHF’s funding will also provide $120,000 to support an Easter Seals Greater Houston project working in Harris and Liberty counties that increases parents’ early childhood brain building knowledge through free weekly family groups. These groups offer coaching on how to support young children’s emotional development. They also help young families make social connections to other families with similar aged children and circumstances. EHF’s grant will help expand the program to reach more than 240 additional families.
Other grants include:
EHF’s grant supports the CenteringParenting® program that works to improve postpartum and early childhood outcomes for low-income, at-risk women and children of color in Houston.
EHF’s grant advances the organization’s effort to increase Early Relational Health awareness and share best practices for families of infants and toddlers across Texas.
People’s Community Clinic
EHF’s grant supports PCC’s effort to make the promotion of early childhood brain development the organizing principle of well-child care at the clinic.
Rupani Foundation will use EHF’s grant to improve its organizational infrastructure to bring its Informed Parent Program to scale.
Santa Maria Hostel, Inc.
EHF’s grant supports the organization’s Caring for Two program in Harris County and its expansion to other areas including Travis County.
Texans Care for Children
Texans Care for Children will use EHF’s grant to strengthen their efforts to advance important children’s health policy goals.
Texas Children’s Hospital
EHF’s grant supports Texas Children’s Hospital and its upWORDS, upWORDS Bridges, and upLIFT programs. These programs work to improve parents’ and caregivers’ knowledge of early childhood brain development, address language delays in young children, and help mitigate postpartum depression and anxiety.
EHF’s grant will help fund TexProtects’ leadership of the Texas Prenatal to-Three Collaborative that supports infants and their families.
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
EHF’s grant supports two grants to UTHealth. A $275,000 grant will support an evidence-based home visitation program that guides early childhood development and addresses maternal depression. Another $252,000 grant will support the early relational health components of the Reach Out and Read Texas program at eight clinics.