The Oregon Pediatric Improvement Association at Oregon Health and Science University has received nearly $4 million in federal funding to promote early childhood development in Oregon communities.
The grant program, called Transforming Pediatrics for Early Childhood and awarded by the US Health Resources and Services Administration for 5 years.
The first years of a child’s life are the foundation for physical and emotional growth. Healthy development during this time can enhance not only a child’s physical ability, but also their social and emotional learning skills, which contribute to the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills needed to be successful in school and other settings. The work of the Oregon Pediatric Improvement Partnership, known as OPIP, will focus on improving the capacity and quality of the workforce needed to deliver high-quality early childhood development services in primary care that address the whole needs of children and families. families.
“People don’t often think about development that happens in early childhood, but these are very important years for a child’s health and well-being,” he said. Colleen Reuland, M.S., director of OPIP at OHSU and instructor in pediatrics at the OHSU School of Medicine. “Having the right resources at this critical stage of life can change the trajectory of a child’s life. This work will enable providers to deliver the necessary programs and services to ensure families can build a strong foundation for their children’s lifelong health and school readiness.”
The OPIP program will work to support a holistic, multigenerational approach to early childhood development, leveraging Oregon’s existing health systems and primary care providers as partners. Efforts will address the continuum of care, including behavioral health, early care and education, child welfare, and other family support services.
To begin, OPIP will focus on supporting four diverse primary care pilot sites in the Portland metro area, serving more than 9,000 families with children birth to age 5, and will establish a “learning collaboration” between the sites. The learning collaboration aims to increase the number of early childhood development experts trained and located in pediatric care settings; increase the quality and availability of early childhood development services; and improve the training, knowledge and competence of staff. Shared learning will also be emphasized at the pilot sites, providing an opportunity to address common issues, including health inequities, barriers to sustainability, and workforce gaps.
OPIP also plans to address health equity and the social and structural determinants of health. Work funded by the program will focus on identifying the specific needs of priority groups, including historically underserved populations, as well as those facing barriers to accessing care, such as people living in rural communities.
Looking ahead, Reuland says the team’s priority is to provide services beyond the project’s pilot sites. “We want to make sure these efforts are not only sustainable, but scalable,” she said. “As we move forward with this work, we plan to engage with policymakers and stakeholders at the state and system levels to ensure that all children, regardless of zip code, health history or personal background, have the support they need to thrive.”
The Transforming Pediatrics for Early Childhood (TPEC) project is supported by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The contents are owned by the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views or endorsement of HRSA, HHS, or the US government. For more information, visit HRSA.gov.