Lifting Families Up through Partnerships with Early Childhood Education Centers
December 11, 2023 by Julia DeAngelo, MPH
Early childhood education is important for a child’s social, emotional and academic development and school readiness. Children’s National is committed to strengthening families, children and the community we serve through supporting early childhood centers through our programming and policy advocacy efforts.
As a founding member of the Early Childhood Innovation Network (ECIN) launched in 2016, Children’s National is embedding mental health supports in early childhood education centers across Washington, DC to improve the ability of staff, families, programs and systems to prevent, identify, treat and reduce the impact of mental health problems among children from birth to age five and their families. ECIN also offers Parent Cafés, a family-based and parent led program where parents and caregivers talk about the challenges and victories of raising a family. Through individual deep self-reflection and learning, participants explore their strengths, learn about the Protective Factors, and create strategies from their own wisdom and experiences to help strengthen their families.
“Children’s National is multifaceted and the work of the Child Health Advocacy Institute and ECIN in the community helps us strengthen the programs and services that we have by being front facing with the community and investing in parent leadership has become a priority for us.” – Randall Baylor, Project Lead for the Community Mental Health CORE at Children’s National
As part of our mission, Children’s National aims to help children and families grow up stronger by leading and supporting activities that engage the community around common health issues and concerns. On November 17, Children’s National participated in the Educare DC Health, Nutrition and Wellness Fair at their Parkside location in Southeast Washington, DC. Educare focuses on eliminating the opportunity gap for young children experiencing poverty in Washington, DC, and helps them learn to build necessary skills for success from kindergarten into their adulthood. The event focused on mental health, health screenings, wellness and selfcare, and live cooking demonstrations. Participants received blood pressure checks, flu vaccines, bagged fresh fruits/vegetables and oral health care packages. Other organizations in attendance included Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures, ECIN, Leadership Council for Healthy Communities, DC Hunger Solutions, FreshFarm and Georgetown University HOYA Clinic.
In collaboration with the community, we also explore and co-create sustainable policy and system change solutions that promote equitable outcomes for all children. Children’s National and HSC 2022-2025 Community Health Improvement Plan includes strategies to change policy, create programs and allocate resources more equitably to improve opportunity for children living in Wards 7 and 8 in Washington, D.C., and Prince George’s County, Maryland—including advocating for high quality, affordable early childhood education centers. In 2023, Children’s National launched an early childhood education hospital workgroup to take action on strategies to build a stronger early childhood education community, including advocate for high quality, affordable early childhood centers and strengthen connections between early childhood centers and hospitals. To learn more visit, childrensnational.org/CHAI
About the author
Julia DeAngelo, MPH
Program Manager for School Strategies within the Child Health Advocacy Institute at Children's National Hospital