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Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (ECCS CoIIN)

by Debbie Cheatham, BSN, MS, DNP, and Catherine Bodkin, MSW, MSHA, LCSW, Senior Technical Assistance Specialists supporting the ECCS CoIIN Project at ZERO TO THREE

Early childhood services stretch across state and local systems. There is an increased need for coordination and integration of these services in order to better serve children and families. To ensure that children reach their developmental potential and are ready to thrive in kindergarten, 12 states (Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, and Utah) are participating in the Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (ECCS CoIIN). Each state selects up to five communities to develop early childhood systems that promote healthy child development and take a proactive approach to identifying developmental challenges as early as possible. The ECCS CoIIN aims to improve the developmental skills of 3-year-old children in these communities by 25% over a 5-year period. Funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration, the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality (NICHQ) uses a collaborative, innovative quality improvement methodology, in which the states and their communities implement a series of evidence-based solutions and use data to track results. ZERO TO THREE is sub-contractor under NICHQ to assist in supporting this work.

One early shining star is New Jersey, which is in Year 2 of implementing the ECCS CoIIN in Camden, Cumberland, Essex, Middlesex, and Passaic counties. These communities were selected because of the following criteria: higher rates of children living in poverty, racial and ethnic disparities, higher rates of unemployment, inadequate housing, low educational attainment, higher rates of family violence, higher rates of child abuse and neglect, higher rates of gang involvement and crime, growing need for translation services and bicultural staff, limited access to child care options, lower rates of health care coverage, and lack of services to support referral efforts. The primary focus is to develop a system of care, well-integrated across state and local supports and services, to improve infant and child outcomes, eliminate disparities, support parents and families, and strengthen communities. Through the system-building efforts, all children will receive developmental screenings and families will have access and be referred to services and supports to promote healthy child development and meet the overall aim to improve developmental skills of 3-year-old children.

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