Wisconsin Healthiest Families Initiative
The Wisconsin Healthiest Families Initiative focuses on networks of
services addressing four areas of focus: family supports, child development,
mental health, and safety and injury prevention. Local public health
departments will work with community partners to build an integrated system
that promotes optimal physical, social-emotional, and developmental health
of children and their families. Populations to be served are: all
infants and children, including children with special health care needs,
expectant mothers (with a special focus on those at risk for poor health
outcomes), and parenting families with young children.
Definitions and sample outcomes for the four areas of focus are:
collection and management of resources and services provided by individuals
and organizations to enhance the capacity of the family unit to promote the
health and optimal development of each of its members. These resources may
be formal or informal. Formal supports are provided by paid professionals
and include screening, information sharing, emotional support, help with
setting goals, concrete assistance, and links to other community resources.
Informal supports are provided by family, friends and the community and
often enable a family to prevent or solve problems on their own while
providing protective factors such as stress reduction and reduction of
isolation. Family support programming is family driven. Professionals work
in partnership within the family system to determine the family’s needs and
directions for the future. Services are comprehensive, flexible and
individualized based on the family’s own goals, culture and context.
Increase awareness among community service
providers about the continuum of resources available for expectant
and parenting families with young children with special focus on
those at risk for poor health outcomes and supporting collaborative
entry into services. Examples of evidence-based or research-informed
programs or training using this approach include; Home Visitation:
Foundations, Parents as Teachers, Great Beginnings Start before
Birth, and Head Start.
Establish a "no wrong door policy for entry into
community resources for expectant and parenting families with young
children including children with special health care needs.
Improve utilization of the continuum of resources
available for expectant and parenting families with young children
(Including children and youth with special health care needs) with
special focus on those at risk of poor health outcomes.
Increase community capacity to engage women of
childbearing age in a medical home and needed community resources to
reduce the risks for poor birth outcomes.
The collective process of achieving optimal milestones in key areas of
growth including prenatal, motor, intellectual, language and social
development. Development is the result of “interactions” between the child
and his/her environment including physical, social, and economic. Each
interaction results in new learning which results in the development of
skills. The frequency, quality and intensity of interactions between
children and their environment will result in each child reaching his or her
full potential. Each child develops at his/her own particular pace but in a
predictable pattern. Developmental milestones give a general idea of the
expected pattern of changes as a child gets older. Developmental screening
provides parents and professionals a valid comparison between an individual
child and typical development of other children of the same age. Screening
always involves the use of a standardized tool. Screening tool questions are
designed to answer the question, "Is this child's development like other
children of the same age?" Follow up to developmental screening includes
several options; reassurance the child is developing as expected, increased
attention to a particular developmental domain as indicated, or a formal
referral to early intervention services for further assessment.
Increase use of a valid developmental screening
tool such as the Ages and Stages Questionnaires across all service
providers with results routinely communicated to the Medical Home
Adoptions by community partners of the American
Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for developmental screening at
9, 18 and 30 months.
Increase the number of completed referrals across
service providers, for follow-up services as indicated, including
referrals to Early Intervention providers.
Increase community support and resources for women
and infants to exclusively breastfeed for 6 months.
Emotional well-being are core tasks for the developing child and those
who care for the child. Because cultures may differ in their conceptions
of mental health, it is important to learn about the family members’
perceptions of a mentally healthy individual and their goals for raising
children. In their shared work to raise a child, parents, family,
community, and professionals commit to fostering the development of that
child’s sense of connectedness, self-worth, intellectual growth, and the
many brain functions that define mental health. There are critical
periods in the life span when mental health is most vulnerable.
Therefore, it is important to design support for mental health
protective factors in relationship to these critical periods, early
childhood being most critical. Prevention activities include risk
assessment family support and referrals to appropriate interventions.
Common risk factors for child behavioral and mental health problems
include: genetic risk factors, environmental risk factors, and chronic
medical illness in the family.
Increase use of a valid social emotional
screening tool, such as the Ages and Stages Social Emotional
Questionnaires, across service providers with results routinely
communicated to the Medical Home provider.
Increase knowledge among community providers of
relationship-based family support. Examples of evidence-based or
research informed programs using this approach include; Mental Health
Endorsement, Home Visitation: Foundations, Parents as Teachers, Great
Beginnings Start before Birth, and Head Start.
Increase community capacity to provide mental
health consultation to providers serving expectant and parenting
families with young children.
Increase screening for depression in all women
of childbearing age across service providers.
Safety and Injury Prevention
Ensuring that mechanisms are in place to protect a child from harm
during the long journey from infancy through adolescence. It
requires the participation of parents, other care givers and the
community. Safety and Injury Prevention encompasses a broad array of
topics. Unintentional injuries are often referred to as accidents
despite being highly preventable. Examples include falls, drowning,
motor vehicle crashes, suffocation and poisoning. Intentional
injuries include those that were purposely inflicted, with the
intent to injure or kill someone (including self). Intentional
injuries often involve a violent act. Examples include homicide,
child maltreatment, sexual assault, bullying and suicide. Common
prevention strategies exist across all causes and manners of injury
that include but are not limited to environmental changes,
education, and enforcement of policies, laws and standards.
Increase awareness among community service
providers about the continuum of resources and services available for
expectant and parenting families with young children, supporting safety
and injury prevention.
Increase access to child passenger safety seats
and fitting stations to assure all children are properly positioned on
every vehicle ride.
Adoption by community partners of consistent
messaging and service provision that promotes infant safe sleep.
Increase screening for violence and follow-up
services in primary care settings.
February 18, 2014