Working with Families

A brief look at systems approaches – Nicole Hinton (Aug. 2020)

The earliest stages of a child’s life are the most critical. At birth, millions of neurons begin to connect as children learn from the world around them. Research shows how early brain architecture formulates a person’s lifelong learning and overall health outcomes (Harvard, 2020). As children develop their family, caregivers, and even environment are the primary influences to individual brain development.

This post will discuss how to provide families with positive experiences for children to grow and develop. These experiences will be outlined through research-based strategies to help build whole-family, child-centered relationships. In addition, this post will look at how parenting styles can influence relationships and a child’s overall development.

Building Relationships

A solid foundation is key to building any relationship, especially when it comes to a family with infants and toddlers. During early childhood development (ages 0-5) children are building their internal foundations and families are the primary external influence. By connecting families to preventative services and resources families are empowered.

However, it is important to understand how these relationships are formed within a family. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) blog written by early educators Karen Nemeth, Derry Koralek, and Kelly Ramsey, eloquently reminds early educators how important clear concise two-way communication is to overall outcomes for a child’s development (Nemath et al., 2020). It is important to note this practice is critical to use across all sectors of early childhood. Agencies such as First 5 California counties provide cross-sector bridges to ensure early childhood sectors to advocate for policies and put into practice programs that are centered upon whole-family relationships to empower parents and caregivers (CCFC, 2020). Similar strategies identified below are exampled in Helping the Most Vulnerable Infants, Toddlers, and Their Families published by National Center for Children in Poverty (Knitzer, J. et al., 2006).

Strategies and Parenting Styles

The California Poverty Measure reports 6.8 million Californians live at or below poverty, the research also indicates 18.8% of which are minors (PPIC, 2020). Families who face economic adversity often exhibit toxic stress (e.g., substance abuse, behavioral issues). Research shows by providing equitable access to programs and services is critical to building family relationships. A strategy outlined by the National Center for Children in Poverty which is used by First 5 California is advocating for and providing programs, resources and supports that provide equal access to all families. These efforts can be seen across the 58-county First 5 network and are embedded in collaborative efforts with health and education systems statewide.

First 5 agencies encourage systems to provide equitable access that is inclusive. Ensuring families can access supports to build upon their prior knowledge is crucial to building a solid foundation. Similar agencies including Early Head Start/Head Start, Zero to Three, and the NAEYC work with First 5 California to advocate equitable access (CCFC, 2020).

A second research-based strategy to build relationships is providing evidence-based and research-informed programs and services. Programs include primary interventions like oral health, mental health, and even parenting education. Often these parent education supports focus upon authoritative parenting; however, it builds upon a family’s current knowledge and practices. Locally, First 5 Modoc provides an in-direct referral to the Nurturing Parenting program model. Its curriculum focuses on providing positive parenting skills to prevent child abuse and neglect (HHS, 2015).

One final and crucial research-based strategy to build relationships with families is building and sustaining a community approach. First 5 California works to ensure systems change across multiple sectors (e.g., public health, mental health, education) of care are providing families equal access (CCFC, 2020). Having a community approach in all sectors of early childhood provides children the strongest, most optimal longterm outcomes. Conclusion Providing families with a comprehensive support system is crucial to children’s overall development. In order to build a comprehensive system all agencies must be able to understand families, meet them where they are, and build upon their strengths. Effective systems using current research, family input, and evidence-based practices will provide whole-family, child-centered, and be able to effectively work with families.

References

California Children and Families Commission (CCFC). (Aug. 2020). First 5 California. [Webpage] Retrieved from https://ccfc.ca.gov/

Harvard. (2020) Brain architecture. Center on the Developing Child: Harvard University. [Web source] Retrieved from https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/brainarchitecture/

Knitzer, J., & Lefkowitz, J. (2006, January). Helping the most vulnerable infants, toddlers, and their families. [PDF file]. Retrieved from http://www.nccp.org/publications/pdf/download_117.pdf

Nemeth, K. (Jan. 2020). Building a system to support family engagement. NAEYC. [Web source] Retrieved from https://www.naeyc.org/resources/blog/family-engagement-system

Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). (Aug. 2020). Just the facts, poverty in California. [Web source] Retrieved from https://www.ppic.org/publication/poverty-in-california/

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). (April 2015). Implementing nurturing parenting programs (Birth to Age 5). [Web source] Retrieved from https://homvee.acf.hhs.gov/implementation/Nurturing%20Parenting%20Programs %20%28Birth%20to%20Age%205%29/Model%20Overview

First 5 Modoc Awarded $56,200 ACEs Aware Grant

First 5 Modoc has received $56,200 in grant funds from the Office of the California
Surgeon General (CA-OSG) and the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to participate in the state’s ACEs Aware initiative. First 5 Modoc will be conducting communications outreach, advocacy, and education to promote the ACEs Aware initiative among the Medi-Cal provider community in Modoc County.
A total of $14.3 million was awarded to 100 organizations throughout the state to extend the reach and impact of the ACEs Aware initiative. ACEs Aware seeks to change and save lives by helping Medi-Cal providers understand the importance of screening for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and training them to respond with trauma-
informed care.
The ACEs Aware grants will provide funding to organizations to design and implement
training, provider engagement, and education activities for providers and organizations that serve Medi-Cal beneficiaries.
“We are looking forward to working in partnership with this amazing group of community leaders to further our efforts to help health care providers become ACEs Aware,” said California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris. “This work is critical, now more than ever, given the stress so many Californians are experiencing as a result of COVID-19 and the role of racial injustice as a risk factor for toxic stress. A trauma-informed health care workforce is vital for helping our state heal.”
The grant funding will provide critical support to community organizations serving Medi-Cal providers and beneficiaries, which have been experiencing increased stress during the COVID-19 emergency. Grant activities will augment California’s efforts, underway since the summer of 2019, to develop provider training and engage providers, including the promotion of payments to Medi-Cal providers for screening their patients for ACEs.
Added Dr. Karen Mark, DHCS Medical Director: “DHCS is committed to preserving and improving the overall health and well-being of all Californians. The ACEs Aware initiative is a vital part of the Medi-Cal program’s response to the COVID-19 emergency.
These grants will help us reach Medi-Cal providers who serve diverse and often at-risk
populations throughout the state, and will help to ensure that Medi-Cal members receive the high-quality, integrated care that every Californian deserves.”
Funding for the ACEs Aware grants was previously authorized in the 2019-20 budget using Proposition 56 funds for provider training on how to conduct ACE screening in the Medi-Cal population. In light of the COVID-19 emergency, the grant funding will provide critical support to the community organizations serving Medi-Cal providers and beneficiaries.
“We are excited to provide outreach and education to our local community, medical
providers, and MediCal patients,” expressed Nicole Hinton, First 5 Modoc Executive
Director. “Understanding and addressing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) is
imperative to helping our community thrive for future generations.”
The full list of ACEs Aware grantees is available on the ACEs Aware Website, www.ACEsAware.org.

About First 5 Modoc
First 5 Modoc was created by the California Children and Families Act of 1998. The local Commission seeks to enhance existing programs and assist in development of new programs, which nurture the physical, social-emotional, and educational growth of children, zero through the age of five. First 5 Modoc is committed to ensuring the optimal health, development, and well being of children zero through five and their families, while at the same time promoting respect and knowledge in all areas of diversity. Follow First 5 Modoc on Facebook or visit www.first5modoc.com.

About ACEs Aware
Led by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, California Surgeon General, and Dr. Karen Mark,
Medical Director for DHCS, the ACEs Aware initiative offers Medi-Cal providers core
training, screening tools, clinical protocols, and payment for screening children and
adults for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), which are stressful or traumatic experiences people have by age 18 that were identified in the landmark ACE
Study. ACEs describe 10 categories of adversities in three domains – abuse, neglect,
and/or household dysfunction. ACEs are strongly associated with at least nine out of 10 of the leading causes of death in the United States. Part of Governor Gavin
Newsom’s California for All initiative, the goal of ACEs Aware is to reduce ACEs and toxic stress by half in one generation. Follow ACEs Aware on Facebook, Twitter,
LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Office of the California Surgeon General
The role of California Surgeon General was created in 2019 by Governor Gavin
Newsom to advise the Governor, serve as a leading spokesperson on public health
matters, and drive solutions to the state’s most pressing public health challenges. As
California’s first Surgeon General, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris has established early
childhood, health equity, and ACEs and toxic stress as key priorities.

California Department of Health Care Services
DHCS is the backbone of California’s health care safety net, helping millions of low-
income and disabled Californians each and every day. The mission of DHCS is to provide Californians with access to affordable, integrated, high-quality health care,
including medical, dental, mental health, substance use treatment services, and long-
term care. DHCS’ vision is to preserve and improve the overall health and well-being of all Californians. DHCS funds health care services for about 13 million Medi-Cal
beneficiaries