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Leadership Connections

News from the Academy of ZERO TO THREE Fellows
August 2023

Attention all Fellows:
2024 Policy, Advocacy and Research (PAR) Collaboration Awards: Call for Applications!

The purpose of this annual award is to further the mission of the Academy in supporting collaboration among Fellows to advance or apply policy, advocacy or research to improve the wellbeing of young children and their families. This year we are happy to announce that Fellows may apply for an award of up to $5,000.

All Fellows who have completed their fellowship by January 1, 2024 may apply. Collaboration between at least two Fellows is required. Applications that address areas identified as critical for young children and families will receive priority, although all applications will be considered. New applicants or projects will also be prioritized. Prior awardees may also apply unless they have received awards in two consecutive award cycles.

Although small, these awards offer a great opportunity for seeding and growing your ideas, collaborations and projects. This is evident in the final report of the third 2022 PAR Collaboration awarded project we are highlighting in this newsletter. 

We are hoping that many of you will respond to this call and apply for this award.  All applications are due by October 31. For further details and the application form, please use the following link: Call for 2024 PAR Collaboration Award Applications .docx

If you have any questions, please email the Academy Council’s PAR Coordinators.

Margaret McLaren
[email protected]

Jennifer Harman
[email protected]

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    2022 Policy, Advocacy, Research (PAR) Collaboration Award: Featured Project

    PREPP (Practical Resources for Effective Postpartum Parenting): a Cross Cultural Perspective

    Collaborating team: Rochelle Matacz (Fellow 2018) and Catherine Wright (Fellow 2018)

    The PAR award aimed to provide comprehensive training and certification in PREPP for Catherine Wright and Rochelle Matacz. Their joint efforts were then directed toward how to spread the intervention in their respective systems. This project encouraged cross-cultural collaboration to better understand how PREPP could be effectively delivered to vulnerable populations served in Australia and North America.

    Catherine and Rochelle explored how to modify the protocol in their systems to make it most effective for the expansion of PREPP. PREPP has never been delivered in Australia and the close collaboration and joint participation in the training enabled Rochelle and Catherine to identify cultural differences and similarities between America and Australia. They were able to identify the importance of the type of language used in PREPP material and distinguish what was not culturally appropriate within an Australian setting. This resulted in adjusting PREPP written material and content to fit with specific cultural groups.

    Since completion of PREPP training, the program has been piloted in a Western Australian perinatal and infant mental health service with success, resulting in decreased anxiety and depressive symptoms in mothers experiencing perinatal mental health problems. Referral pathways established in Western Australia will serve as a guide for the development of implementation in the State of Minnesota. Catherine has recently been placed on a state-wide committee to support pregnant and newly parenting incarcerated women. The committee is charged to identify parenting supports for these new parents. Catherine is hoping to bring PREPP as one of the interventions for caregivers.

    Catherine and Rochelle have been collaborating on numerous cross-country initiatives since the start of their ZERO TO THREE Fellowship including training in the Early Childhood Services Intensity Instrument, Attachment Biobehavioral Catch-up, and laying some of the groundwork for building a parent-infant mental health residential treatment facility in the United States. PREPP training has played a significant role in creating more opportunity for future international collaboration and harnessing a cross-cultural approach to embedding evidence-based practice in perinatal infant mental health in Australia and the United States. 

    Rochelle Matacz Headshot

    Rochelle Matacz    
    Fellow 2018

    Catherine Wright
    Fellow 2018

    Fellows Academy Reception at the LEARN Conference: Minneapolis, MN

    The Academy Council is hosting an Academy Gathering for past and present Fellows at this year’s ZERO TO THREE LEARN Conference, happening September 19 – 20. Please RSVP and provide us with your preferences. Final details will be shared with all who RSVP using the link provided.

    Academy of Fellows Retreat in October: Washington, DC. (Postponed to 2024)

    We have decided to postpone the Fellows retreat to spring/summer 2024. ZERO TO THREE is already hosting two events this fall: The LEARN Conference in Minneapolis, MN (Sept. 19-20) and the Signature LEARN Institute in Palm Springs, CA (Dec. 5-6). We want to provide opportunities for Fellows to connect over the course of the year so stay tuned for a 2024 retreat.

    ZERO TO THREE LEARN Institute Academy Reception: Palm Springs, CA (Tuesday, December 5 | Time/Location: TBD)

    The Academy Council will host an Academy Reception for Fellows at the Signature LEARN Institute on December 5. Stay tuned for additional details.

    Call for Volunteers

    The Academy Council would love to have more volunteers to help further advance our vision and mission, so please consider volunteering to be part of this amazing group!

    The vision of the ZERO TO THREE Academy of Fellows is the development of a thriving, relationship-based community of Fellows that promotes the well-being of infants, children and families.

    Fellow Spotlight

    Jennifer Harman, Ph.D., IMH-E (2018-20)

    Chief of Early Childhood Neurodevelopment Section, Associate Faculty Member, Department of Psychology & Biobehavioral Sciences, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

    Half of newly diagnosed cases of invasive pediatric cancer occur in children under 5 years of age, with more than a quarter of cases (27%) occurring in the first year of life. Some of these young children were already receiving integrated, family-centered early intervention services in their home communities due to developmental delay or risk of developmental delay prior to their diagnosis of cancer– and some likely should have received early intervention services but were not yet identified in their home communities prior to cancer diagnosis. Furthermore, many of these young children, even those without prior developmental delays or risk of developmental delay, are now at risk for significantly impaired functioning due to disease and/or treatment-related factors.

    With this in mind, 2018-2020 Fellow Jennifer (Jen) Harman, PhD, led efforts to create an interdisciplinary early childhood clinic at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. This clinic provides dyadic infant mental health services alongside developmental assessment and hospital-based early intervention services and has served more than 350 young children with cancer and their families to date.

    A recent analysis of clinic outcome data highlighted that the majority of these children need, and as a result of Harman’s clinic, receive developmental therapy (99%), occupational therapy (83%), physical therapy (84%), and/or speech language therapy (85%) services during active cancer-directed treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Additional data demonstrated that increased rates of developmental delay are common among young children with cancer regardless of the type of cancer (e.g., hematological malignancy, brain tumor, or non-central nervous system solid tumors).

    Harman’s early childhood clinic is the first, and, to date, only of its kind in the pediatric oncology world – but that will not be the case for long. Indeed, manuscripts and presentations related to the early childhood clinic are changing the landscape of support services for infants/toddlers with cancer and their families. As one example, following a presentation at the 54th Congress of the International Society of Pediatric Oncology in Barcelona, Spain last year, Harman was asked to consult with professionals from Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin. These professionals are informing the creation of national standards for the care of children with cancer in Ireland–standards that are now slated to include intentional, proactive support services for infants/toddlers with cancer and their families.

    ZERO TO THREE Highlights

    ZERO TO THREE Impact Report 2022

    We believe that early childhood development is not just the responsibility of parents or educators, but of our society. Together, we can create a world that has the knowledge and will to support all infants and toddlers in reaching their full potential.

    Thanks to your generous support, we have reached more babies and toddlers than ever before, and we have seen firsthand the transformative impact our innovative programs and initiatives have on their lives. Our team of dedicated professionals has worked tirelessly to ensure that babies and their families receive the care, connections and essential resources they need to grow and thrive.

    Our collective impact is a driving force behind brighter futures for children around the world, and we are grateful for your unwavering support in making our work possible. THANK YOU for being a Baby Champion with us. Together, we will continue to grow and ensure all babies have a strong start in life.

    ZERO TO THREE’s Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) Guiding Principles

    A baby touches an adult's hand.

    Healthy, nurturing relationships with parents and caregivers are key to a baby’s social and emotional development, often referred to as infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH), which lays the foundation for all future development.

    The caregiver-young child relationship is shaped by history, culture, community and environment. Anyone who touches the lives of pregnant persons, and families of infants and young children can play a role in promoting and supporting infant and early childhood mental health.


    Support the Academy of Fellows

    Your contribution will help us promote collaborations and partnerships, sustain relationships, support the fellowship program and advance the early childhood field.