Building a Culture of Collaboration Within Multilevel Systems
In our line of work, positive outcomes depend on the careful synergy of multiple systems. Because children’s health is influenced by a great many factors, simultaneously engaging systems at the community, city, state and government level is essential for significant change.
All too often we discover that two state agencies can be closely aligned on their goal, but working independently to reach it. When we work collaboratively instead, we’re able to pool, leverage and reinforce our resources for a common aim—a major benefit when such resources are often extremely limited.
A new e-course—NICHQ’s Essentials of Collaboration—provides strategies for healthy collaboration. One of the first steps is setting a clear aim, so that participants in an improvement project at all system levels know what they are working toward and understand their role in creating change. As we work to unite everyone around a common aim, team leaders should attempt to gain a complete picture of the context under which participants are currently working. Once they have a firm grasp on the specific assets and limitations of each system, leaders can provide teams with the right tools and resources to reach their goal.
When it comes to understanding the nuances of how a system operates, active listening can be incredibly powerful. Active listening is not only helpful in fostering the robust relationships at the heart of healthy collaboration; it may also shed light on the historical context of each system (as well as the areas where various systems intersect). Active listening can also bring about a shift in perspective that allows team leaders to guide collaboration more effectively. Rather than asking how to get participants fully engaged in the improvement process, for instance, we might frame the question as: “What do team members need from us so that they can fulfill their goals?” This subtle distinction helps in adopting a collaborative mindset.
Another key aspect of cultivating healthy collaboration is tuning into each participant’s unique strengths and weaknesses. Pinpointing weak spots can help you anticipate the necessary resources to support the team, while identifying and honoring a team member’s strengths can boost motivation and give projects fuel for long-lasting change. By capitalizing on people’s strengths, you grant them the opportunity to do what they most enjoy. And when people quickly see results from their work, they’re usually inspired to stay committed and even step up their efforts.
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.
It Starts with Us and It Starts Now: Healing for Moms and Babies Begins with Ourselves and Our Systems
NICHQ CEO Scott D. Berns, MD, MPH, FAAP shares a message on healing and the ongoing need for equity-designed systems in 2021 and beyond.
Safe Sleep and Breastfeeding Initiative Invites Advocates to Join Communities of Practice
A multi-year initiative to improve infant safe sleep and breastfeeding is launching sector-specific Communities of Practice in 2021 to address policies, improve skills, and learn from other advocates’ experiences.
Coordinated Systems Are Key to Addressing Rising Preterm Birth Rates
Sovannah, a mother of three in Kansas, is an advocate for systems-level change. During her third pregnancy, she connected with a network of supports that she says completely changed her family’s experience. Here, she shares her story that sheds light on the powerful potential of coordinated systems — for reducing preterm births and for strengthening families.
Making Fathers Visible in Maternal and Child Health
From cognitive and social emotional development to education and accomplishments, children with involved fathers achieve better health outcomes. Yet despite fathers’ positive impact on maternal and child health, many of the systems intended to serve women and children were not designed with fathers in mind. That’s why we’re sharing strategies to increasing father involvement in early childhood programs.