Maternal and Child Health

Early Childhood Systems

The Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Program is addressing eight priority areas identified from the MCH 2010 needs assessment by using a systems-building approach and the Life Course Framework

The MCH Program defines Early Childhood Systems as local public health departments working with community partners to build and integrate services and supports that promote optimal physical, mental, and social health and development of all children and their families. Important features include:

  • Emphasis on Life Course Theory and the importance of early childhood
  • Collaboration across agencies and partnership with broad-based stakeholders
  • Coordination and non-duplication of efforts
  • Accessibility and equitability for those at highest risk
  • Accountability
  • Quality improvement processes
  • Ability to make best use of limited resources and sustain efforts over time

A brief background paper (PDF, 202 KB) addresses the following concepts and questions.

  • What Is an MCH Early Childhood System?
  • Why Are We Building Early Childhood Systems?
  • What Do Early Childhood Systems Look Like in Wisconsin?
  • What Is the Role of the Local Health Departments within MCH Early Childhood Systems?

The 2011-2015 Title V MCH Block Grant funding supports early childhood systems work through two initiatives:

Wisconsin Healthiest Families

This initiative focuses on improving systems to address family supports, child development, mental health, and safety and injury prevention.

Keeping Kids Alive

This initiative includes Child Death Review and Fetal Infant Mortality Review.


Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN): Local public health departments working on the Early Childhood Systems initiatives, Wisconsin Healthiest Families (WHF) and/or Keeping Kids Alive (KKA), should collaborate with the Wisconsin Title V Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs Program's Regional Centers for CYSHCN or other partners for help in including CYSHCN.

MCH Early Childhood Systems Core Competencies

2014 Events

Staff Contacts

Additional Resources

Past events with links to recorded sessions, websites and/or materials.

  • Public Health Nursing Pre-Conference: Enhancing Early Childhood Systems: Learning from Others (August 15, 2011): See the Annual Public Health Nurse Conference web page for all materials.

  • Focus - Bright Futures Promoting Child Development and Promoting Mental Health: Part 1

Wisconsin First Step
Information and links to services for children and youth with special needs, their families and providers. Call 800-642-7837 to speak with a parent specialist. Information is available on services such as Birth to 3/early intervention, financial assistance, parent networking and support, home health care, therapy services, CYSHCN Regional Centers and more.

Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Hotline
Information and links to services for pregnant and postpartum women and children. Call 800-722-2295 for information on BadgerCare Plus, WIC, HealthCheck, maternal depression, Prenatal Care Coordination, family planning, developmental screenings, and more.

Last Revised: June 26, 2015