Pediatric Brain
Health Summit

March 7-8, 2022

The 2022 Pediatric Brain Health was held virtually on Crowdcast. The theme for the 2022 summit was “Working Together to Support Relational Health in Families”.

Summit recordings:

Mandated Reporting Versus Mandated Supporting

Presenters: Sasha Rasco, MPA; Christopher Greeley, MD, MS, FAAP; Stephen Black, MA

The majority of child maltreatment cases are due to neglect, and infants and toddlers are most vulnerable. Mandatory reporting is not enough to help families. Families need support, resources, and warm handoffs to care. Pediatricians and their staff can be part of the solution by applying a therapeutic mindset and connecting families to upstream supports and evidence-based interventions:

  • Screen mothers for important risk factors (e.g., postpartem depression, substance use).
  • Connect families with services, and help them navigate the complexities of the system (e.g., filling out a WIC form). Follow up to close the loop and make sure they were able to access services.

The Role of Pediatrics in Promoting Safe Stable Nurturing Environments

Presenter: David Willis, MD, FAAP

Early relationships shape the well-being of children and caregivers. Ways pediatricians and their staff can help build the resilience capacity of families include:

  • Encourage family interactions that promote early relational health such as emotional expression and eye contact.
  • Be authentic. Ensure families feel seen and heard and are treated as trusted partners in their children’s health.
  • Listen to families’ experiences. Be mindful of issues of discrimination and how they demoralize parents and disrupt relational health.
  • Use two-generation strategies. Zero to Thrive promotes the health and resilience of families now and into the next generation.
  • Partner with community systems (e.g., community health workers, home visiting programs). Ensure referrals are completed and monitor support over time. The Healthy Steps Model brings together healthcare providers with community supports.
  • Adopt early literacy as a way to strengthen relationships and build literacy skills. The Reach Out and Read program integrates reading aloud into pediatric care.

Building the Ecosystem to Take the Science of the Positive to Scale

Presenter: Christina Bethell, PhD

Promoting the parent/child connection can have a profound impact on health. It is through difficult experiences that people generate positive experiences (e.g., feeling able to talk to your family about your feelings, feeling like your family stood by you during difficult times). The Well Visit Planner helps families plan ahead for visits, store information, and access educational resources by working in partnership with their healthcare providers to reflect on what is going well, identify concerns, assess a child’s healthy development, and prioritize what to discuss during visits.

Healthy Communities and Thriving Families: Role of Pediatrics

Presenter: Renee Boynton-Jarrett, MD

Chronic stressors over time tax the body and wear down resilience; whereas positive childhood experiences sustain supportive relationships, build social and emotional competencies, and create resilience. Through cross-sector engagement, and by listening to families in small groups, healthcare providers can break down silos, redesign their healthcare practices and build community capacity. For example, the Vital Village Networks align prevention efforts across sectors and engage community supports to improve family and community wellbeing.

Optimizing and Supporting Food Bank/Healthcare Partnerships in Texas

Presenter: Eileen Nehme, PhD; Natalie Poulos, PhD; Nedra Hotchkins, M.Ed

Twenty percent of Texas children identify as food insecure. Food insecurity is tied to a host of child health outcomes as well as increasing caregiver stress. Healthcare providers can reduce the effects of food insecurity through the following strategies:

  • Provide staff-wide training on food insecurity.
  • Distribute food at or near your healthcare site.
  • Refer patients to local food distribution services.

Help Me Grow Initiative

Presenter: Alexandra Goldberg, Ed.D; Laura Kender, MS

Help Me Grow (HMG) is a system to help families and healthcare providers access information and resources to support healthy child development, including issues with developmental delays. HMG launched in Texas in 2020, is coordinated through the Department of State Health Services, and is available in specific regions with plans for expansion.

The Pediatric Brain Health Summit is part of the pediatric brain health initiative, a multi-sector, multi-agency collaboration focused on the prenatal to three-year-old developmental window. The purpose of the initiative is to use the current science on pediatric brain development to help inform and support programs that promote community resilience and optimal development in Texas’ children.