By Angeline Spain, Angela Sander, and Amanda Brownd, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, 2020
Pediatric well-child visits represent a critical, often untapped opportunity to ask families about unmet social care needs and connect them with early childhood and other community services. Innovating in this space to address social determinants of health, early childhood organizations are increasingly building healthcare partnerships with the goal of increasing family access to services and preventing challenges from becoming crises. However, it can be difficult to establish shared priorities between early childhood and health care, let alone reorganize care around family needs. Pediatric clinic staff are challenged by the task of asking families about their social care needs in the context of a well-child visit based on the practical logistics alone. Innovators in this work have begun to identify common barriers associated with startup, sustainability, and continuous improvement of healthcare and early childhood systems integration. Lessons learned from these innovations can enhance ongoing and future implementation and help ensure systems integration efforts align with what families actually want to support the health and well-being of their infants.