Transforming Early Childhood Systems
The first few years of life set the stage for a child’s future. Experiences during early childhood (prenatal to kindergarten) inform social, emotional and cognitive development, as well as overall health, determining early in life whether a child is set up to reach his or her optimal health.
Knowing the great impact investments and interventions can have at this critical stage of development, NICHQ is working through various projects and partnerships, to mobilize diverse sectors—including families, communities and policymakers—to transform early childhood systems to ultimately improve health outcomes for young children nationwide.
Keep scrolling, or use these quick links, to learn more.
Social Determinants of Health
Children's health during their early years often depends on the circumstances in which they are born. Access to good schools, housing, food, community supports - all of these determinants affect children's health and development. Learn more about how social determinants of health affect health equity.
When families struggle because of environmental circumstances, such as their job, community or economic status, children's health also suffers. A two-generation approach acknowledges that parent and child health are intertwined and seeks to address the needs of the family holistically. NICHQ's CEO discusses how here. Or, watch this video that explains why two-generation approaches can have a big impact on early childhood outcomes.
Children should have three developmental screenings before they reach their third birthday.These screenings assess whether children are meeting their developmental milestones, prompt proactive interventions and help all children start school ready to succeed. Find out more in this webinar, or read about one state's developmental screening journey.
Supports for Parents and Caregivers:
Parents lay the groundwork for their children's future. That's why we're invested in helping families understand how important early childhood development is, what resources they can tap, and what actions they can take. Learn more about a powerful state system that empowers parents, or read an article about how to launch an early childhood parent academy in your community.
Join Our Virtual Community
The Collaboratory is a virtual place where ECCS CoIIN participants and stakeholders can share ideas and best practices, ask questions, and uncover useful tips to advance their change efforts. With an "all teach, all learn" and "steal shamelessly" philosophy, NICHQ is opening up the Collaboratory to anyone working to enhance early childhood systems.
Already a member? Log-in here.
Want to join? Fill out this form to request access.
A Physician’s Reflections on Racism and Treating Sickle Cell Disease
For NICHQ’s current and future work, I am motivated by wanting to be a better version of myself in service of others. Wondering whether my own implicit biases impacted my care of patients and families, I realize that I cannot redo past ER experiences. If I could go back, I would slow down to acknowledge and try to set my biases aside and approach patients from a personally more informed perspective. But now, I can use my past, present, and future experiences to ensure NICHQ is amplifying important lessons from this multi-year effort reflecting the compassion, care, and commitment of hundreds of dedicated professionals in pursuit of equitable, accessible, and quality healthcare for people living with sickle cell disease.
NICHQ Employee Spotlight: Kim Sprunck
As NICHQ's Associate Director of Programs and Project Director for the Sickle Cell Disease Treatment Demonstration Regional Collaboratives Program and Content Development for Newborn Screening Clearinghouse initiatives, Kim Sprunk shares key takeaways and findings from the projects and their importance to NICHQ's overall programming goals.
Navigating Well-Child Visits and Vaccinations during COVID-19
Well-child visits and recommended vaccinations are essential, ensuring children stay healthy and are protected from preventable diseases and illnesses such as measles, whooping cough, and seasonal flu. But, as the COVID-19 pandemic persists, data shows that fewer childhood vaccinations have been given and many children have fallen behind on their scheduled appointments. Healthcare professionals should utilize the following strategies to work with parents and caregivers to get their children caught up on missed appointments and recommended vaccinations.
Exploring a Nonbinary Approach to Health
NICHQ is not abandoning the traditional use of the terms “mother” and “maternal.” We are embracing the inclusive language of “birthing person/people” across our work. A move toward inclusive language does not force us to stop using language that so many people identify with; at its core, inclusion is about creating more space for one another. We are taking care to expand the use of these terms in our communications, on our website, in our resources, and eventually, in all our projects.
NICHQ Employee Spotlight: Stacey C. Penny
With NICHQ's Rare As One Network Workstream Facilitation Initiative at a halfway point, Senior Project Director Stacey C. Penny, MSW, MPH shares an inside look at one of NICHQ's most collaborative projects.
Are Screens Making our Children’s Eyes Worse?
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, children of all ages were spending more screen time than ever before on cellphones, tablets, and laptops. Prolonged periods of time staring at a screen that may be too big, too bright, or too close to our eyes can cause eye fatigue or even lead to dry eye, a chronic eye condition common in older adults. With eye conditions becoming more prominent in children, it's important for health professionals to encourage healthy screen viewing habits and support children’s eye health in the digital age.
Partners in Collaboration
To transform early childhood systems—as opposed to implementing individual interventions—requires collaboration from a host of traditional and nontraditional partners. Below are organizations we are proud to call our partners in this important work. Click the links below to learn more about each organization's work in early childhood. Email us at [email protected], or complete the form below, to learn how you can get involved.
- Applied Engineering Management Corporation
- Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs
- Center for the Study of Social Policy
- Children’s Hospital at Montefiore/Albert Einstein College of Medicine
- Health Resources and Services Administration Maternal and Child Health Bureau
- Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
- Institute for Healthcare Improvement
- J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation
- National Institutes of Health
- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
- Silicon Valley Community Foundation Parenting Through Pediatrics Fund
- ZERO to THREE
NICHQ Manuscript on Social-Emotional Screening Published by BMJ Open Quality
BOSTON – A NICHQ-authored manuscript about integrating social-emotional screening at well-child visits was published online on June 11, 2021 by BMJ Open Quality. "Promoting social-emotional development during the pediatric well-child visit: a demonstration project" details how a quality improvement approach increased the number of children from birth to age 3 years who received age-appropriate social-emotional developmental screens or assessments at well-child visits.
Four National Maternal and Child Health Organizations Announce Joint Action Plan for Anti-Racism and Racial Equity
BOSTON – The National Institute for Children’s Health Quality (NICHQ) is uniting with three other national maternal and child health organizations in a bold, public commitment to undoing racism as a key driver to improve maternal and infant health outcomes, highlighting irrefutable disparities in morbidity and mortality rates across racial and ethnic groups in the United States.
NICHQ’s Heidi Brooks honored as one of Boston’s Most Impactful Black Women
BOSTON – Heidi Brooks, COO of the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality (NICHQ), is being honored as one of Boston’s Most Impactful Black Women in 2021. Hosted by Get Konnected!, the virtual event ceremony on March 23 features special guest Mayor of Boston Kim Janey and is moderated by LaToyia Edwards from NBC10 Boston.
NICHQ to Develop Evidence-Informed Framework to Improve Equity in Health Systems
The National Institute for Children’s Health Quality (NICHQ) has begun a two-year initiative to develop an Equity Systems Continuum framework for healthcare systems to address systemic racism and other forms of oppression. Efforts will focus on refining the Equity Systems Continuum through a maternal and children’s health lens. The project is funded by a $300,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Mich.
NICHQ Board of Directors Welcomes Dr. Charlene Collier and Dr. Stephen Cha
NICHQ is excited to welcome two new members to our board of directors. Dr. Charlene Collier and Dr. Stephen Cha will support our work to eliminate health disparities and ensure all children reach their optimal health.
Explore HRSA’s New Newborn Screening Information Center
To increase awareness, knowledge, and understanding of newborn screening and genetic conditions, NICHQ partnered with Genetic Alliance, a newborn screening content expert and leading national health organization, to develop, revise and deliver general, state-specific and condition-specific newborn screening website content.
Partner With Us
Are you interested in using these changes ideas to improve children’s health in a population, state or healthcare setting? Contact to NICHQ to discuss:
- Opportunities to identify partners and strategies to get partner buy-in
- Tools used to track data and enhance collaboration
- Training on consistent messaging and counseling
From supporting individual organizations to national programs, NICHQ’s vast change management experience helps us customize the best solution for you.