Hospital to target disparities through pilot project embedding early intervention staff in pediatric offices Connecticut Health Foundation awards nine grants this quarter

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With a grant from the Connecticut Health Foundation, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center will pilot a program to embed Birth to Three early intervention staff in pediatricians’ offices, an arrangement aimed at improving access to services for children of color.

The grant is one of nine awarded this quarter by the Connecticut Health Foundation, the state’s largest independent health philanthropy.

Although early detection and intervention are critical for children at risk of developmental disorders, children of color are more likely to miss the opportunity for early intervention. On average, minority children are diagnosed with autism two years later than white children, and once diagnosed, they are far less likely to receive the services of developmental pediatricians or psychologists.

As part of the $59,946 grant, Connecticut Children’s will embed staff from Birth to Three – the state program that serves young children with developmental and health needs – in two pediatric offices. There, early intervention staff will provide assistance to the pediatric staff and will be available to meet face-to-face with families.

Connecticut Children’s will evaluate whether this arrangement increases rates of screening, referral to early intervention, and use of Birth to Three services. It will also examine barriers to integrating early intervention services in pediatric offices and develop financial models that could support this type of program.

“Children who receive early intervention services in the statewide Birth to Three system often reach better developmental outcomes, but these services are not accessed equally. Children from certain communities, such as racial/ethnic minority or low-income communities, are identified as needing these services later, referred for these services less frequently, and receive the services less often,” said Dr. Thyde Dumont-Mathieu, the project director, and a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. “It is imperative to develop and test new ways of identifying children who need early intervention and improving their access to these critical services.”

The project builds on a previous Connecticut Health Foundation grant to the hospital to examine factors that increased screenings and improved families’ use of Birth to Three services. That research identified a need for more systematic coordination between pediatric offices and the Birth to Three program.

“This project will allow Connecticut Children’s to focus on addressing the significant disparities in access to early intervention services, and to test a model that could be replicated or built upon if it is successful,” said Tiffany Donelson, vice president of program at the Connecticut Health Foundation. “We are hopeful that this approach can lead to broader change by identifying models that improve care.”

OTHER GRANTS AWARDED

The grant is among nine awarded by the Connecticut Health Foundation this quarter, totaling $364,946. The others are:

Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut (CHDI) (Farmington, statewide reach): $30,000

The Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut’s research indicates that the optimal time to introduce healthy eating to children is from birth to age two. But there is limited research available on the responsiveness of low-income and minority families to interventions that address infant and toddler feeding. This grant will support CHDI’s work on early childhood obesity prevention by helping to fund research projects on dietary interventions to prevent obesity in infants and toddlers from low-income and minority families.

Connecticut State Medical Society (North Haven; statewide reach): $50,000
The medical society will establish standards for collecting data on patients’ race, ethnicity, and language preference, and will pilot those recommendations. Collecting data on race, ethnicity, and language preference in health care is key for monitoring health disparities and designing interventions.

Health Equity Solutions

(Hartford): $50,000

Health Equity Solutions will engage the Connecticut Health Foundation’s Health Leadership Fellows Network to work toward system change through public policy advocacy. The fellows are a group of close to 200 individuals who have participated in the foundation’s Health Leadership Fellows Program.

National Alliance on Mental Illness, Connecticut (NAMI-Connecticut)

(Hartford; statewide reach): $25,000

NAMI-Connecticut will deepen its advocacy role in the effort to reduce health disparities. It will do so through participation in the State Innovation Model health reform effort, and through work to: integrate behavioral health

services into systems that serve children, particularly schools and pediatric primary care; reduce barriers to access to culturally competent care; and improve access and delivery of services for the state’s Medicaid population.

 

Partnership for Strong Communities

(Hartford): $75,000

The Partnership for Strong Communities will investigate why people of color are underrepresented in effective programs for homeless patients known as community care teams. The teams bridge the gap between health care and other community providers to better meet the needs of patients who frequently go to the emergency department. Even though people of color are disproportionately homeless, 70 percent of those served by community care teams are white. This grant will enable the Partnership for Strong Communities to examine why fewer minorities are referred to community care teams, develop mechanisms to standardize reporting whether patients are homeless in electronic medical record systems, and recommend policies to address issues with reporting and tracking homelessness among patients.

NEW FUNDING INITIATIVE

The foundation awarded three grants under a new funding initiative intended to support community-based organizations in engaging their constituencies in organizing and grassroots advocacy efforts focused on health reform at the state and federal levels.

Christian Community Action (CCA)

(New Haven): $25,000

CCA, an ecumenical social service organization, will work to help low-income New Haven-area residents advocate for health care policies that reflect the needs of their communities. CCA will focus on advocating for: 1) state-level policies that allow people with pre-existing conditions to buy health insurance; 2) state-level policies that protect consumers from lifetime limits on their health insurance benefits; 3) policies that ensure continued coverage and improved health outcomes for Medicaid clients. The organization also plans to address health care affordability.

Congregations Organized for A New Connecticut (CONECT)

(New Haven and Fairfield Counties): $25,000

CONECT, an interfaith organization of 25 congregations in New Haven and Fairfield Counties, aims to provide a broad, effective consumer-oriented voice in the rapidly evolving health care landscape. It plans to work on: 1) defending progress Connecticut has made in expanding health coverage under the Affordable Care Act; 2) pressing for improvements to mental health care access and care quality; and 3) raising the consumer voice in the state insurance rate review process.

Cross Street Training and Academic Center

(Middletown): $25,000

Cross Street Training and Academic Center plans to work with church leaders and congregants to participate in legislative advocacy. Congregants often turn to their churches when struggling with health care challenges or other crises, and Cross Street Training and Academic Center’s previous work has identified a need for black church leaders to organize their congregations to engage in legislative advocacy. This coalition will work on: 1) policies related to community health workers; 2) protecting current Medicaid supports and funding levels; 3) reducing the use of emergency rooms in New Britain, Hartford, and Middletown by promoting community-based behavioral health services and preventive care.

For more information, please contact Arielle Levin Becker at 860-724-1580 x 16, or arielle@cthealth.org.

About the Connecticut Health Foundation

The Connecticut Health Foundation (CT Health) is the state’s largest independent health philanthropy dedicated to improving lives by changing health systems. Since it was established in 1999, the foundation has supported innovative grantmaking, public policy research technical assistance and convening to achieve its mission – to improve the health of the people of Connecticut. Over the past 17 years, CT Health has awarded grants totaling more than $59 million in 45 cities and towns throughout the state.

For more information about the foundation, please visit www.cthealth.org or 860.724.1580.