After the passing of her husband to cancer and her youngest son's diagnosis with muscular dystrophy a year later, Veronica Rosario's mother and father-in-law invited her and her two sons to live with them in East Hartford. While she was pleased to have the support of her in-laws and access to Connecticut Children's Medical Center, Veronica continued to struggle locating basic services and supports. Fortunately, Rosario found Connecticut Children's Center for Care Coordination. As part of Connecticut Children's Office for Community Child Health, Connecticut Children's Center for Care Coordination connects families to programs and services that can help their children grow and develop.
Rosario was assigned a care coordinator, Maria Guzman, who helped Rosario find a primary care physician for her sons, apply for health insurance, enroll her sons in school, apply with a temporary employment agency and connect with other services and supports. In helping Rosario, Guzman helped ensure the children's healthy development at the same time.
By having access to needed services and by learning to focus on her family's strengths as opposed to their problems, Rosario and her children now are better able to face current and future challenges. In fact, Rosario's family recently moved into their own apartment and Rosario is continuing education courses at a local college.
"There is a lot of information and services out there. Connecticut Children's Center for Care Coordination helps you get that information and helps you decipher it when it becomes overwhelming," said Rosario. "They helped me become more confident in myself and that way I can be a better mother and caregiver."
Now more families can access this type of coordinated and integrated support thanks to a three-year, $300,000 grant to Connecticut Children's Office for Community Child Health from the Hartford Foundation. The grant will fund a new initiative using the Strengthening Families framework developed by the Center for the Study of Social Policy. The Office will train Hartford-based child health and early childhood providers in the Strengthening Families protective factors approach that focuses on five areas: boosting parental resilience; building parents' social connections; enhancing knowledge of parenting and child development; providing families with concrete support in times of need; and increasing social and emotional competence of children. The Office will also train providers in continuous quality improvement techniques to help ensure families receive the best possible care.
"We are grateful for the Hartford Foundation's generous support of our initiative to strengthen Hartford families through this protective factors approach," said Paul Dworkin, MD, executive vice president for community child health at Connecticut Children's Medical Center. "We strongly believe enhancing protective factors will enable families to better cope with the myriad of challenges that face them while also improving health and development outcomes for children."
Because of their interactions with providers participating in this initiative, families of young children in Hartford will: have a deeper understanding of their children's development; have resources for help in times of need; have social connections to assist in raising their children; show resilience in stressful times; and promote their children's socio-emotional competence. The more resilient families are, the more empowered they feel to provide a nurturing environment that supports their children's healthy development and positive life outcomes.
"This grant so eloquently demonstrates what we know about child health – that supporting young children and their families is so much more than simply ensuring high quality health care," said Richard Sussman, the Hartford Foundation's director of Early Childhood Investments. "In fact, research has shown that 90 percent of child health is about improving the system and conditions that affect children and families as opposed the treatment of illness. Utilization of the protective factors framework has the potential of dramatically increasing the health and well-being of our region's young children."
Connecticut Children's Medical Center is the only hospital in Connecticut dedicated exclusively to the care of children. Connecticut Children's is a nationally recognized not-for-profit with a medical staff of more than 1,000 providing comprehensive, world-class health care in more than 30 pediatric specialties and subspecialties. Connecticut Children's Medical Center is the primary pediatric teaching hospital for the UConn School of Medicine, has a teaching partnership with the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University and is a research partner of Jackson Laboratory. Connecticut Children's Office for Community Child Health is a national leader in community-based prevention and wellness programs. To learn more about Connecticut Children's Medical Center, please visit connecticutchildrens.org.
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. In 2015, the Foundation celebrated ninety years of grantmaking in the Greater Hartford region, made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations. It has awarded grants of $687 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.