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.
Lead Poisoning Continues to Put Too Many Children at Risk
In more than 4 million homes across America, children are living and playing while being exposed to the damaging effects of lead. This Alabama family's experience illustrates why improving provider education is an important driver for states seeking to improve systems of care; it leads to earlier testing, early and effective interventions, and the coordinated care families need so that more children have the opportunity to grow up in healthy, safe environments.
A Grandfather’s Passion to Transform Early Childhood Systems
David Armstrong's grandson was born into a neighborhood where drug use was common, and poverty and gang violence were pervasive. He was born into a home where his parents struggled with substance abuse and where their fighting sometimes ended in domestic violence. He is one of too many children born into circumstances that illustrate why families need better supports and better systems. Here, Armstrong shares their story.
An African-American Fraternity Alliance is Changing Infant Health Outcomes
In Arkansas, nearly 300 babies die before their first birthday each year. That’s almost a baby every day. Determined to change these numbers and reach communities most affected, the Arkansas Department of Health turned to a nontraditional partner for maternal and infant health: Brothers United, an alliance of African American fraternities.
The Opioid Epidemic and Maternal Health: Three Opportunities for Change
Opioid use disorder in pregnancy has increased dramatically across the country in the last decade, bringing with it increased health risks for mothers and babies. Health professionals can help change these statistics by making the most of every interaction they have with new mothers, from prenatal care to building postpartum supports. Click in for advice from experts in the field.
Driving Improvement with Motivational Interviewing
Change is most effective, and most sustainable, when individuals choose to make the change because they’ve realized it supports their goals. While eliciting that realization isn’t always easy, drawing on motivational interviewing (MI) can help. Click in for three strategies to get your team started on using this technique.
Supporting Comprehensive Screening Systems, from Early Childhood through Adolescence
From empowering parents to consolidating data, a statewide, birth to 5 comprehensive early childhood system has powerful potential. A community-based team in Delaware is showing what this might look like. Find out more here.