Reaching 1 Million Babies a Year With HealthySteps: The Thrill and Challenge of an Audacious Goal
by LaTanya Moore, Senior Training and Technical Assistance Specialist, HealthySteps National Office
Editor’s Note: HealthySteps is an evidence-based program of ZERO TO THREE that transforms the promise of pediatric primary care by integrating a child development expert, called a HealthySteps Specialist, into the health care team. HealthySteps promotes positive parenting and healthy development for children from birth to 3 years old by providing universal screening to all families, referrals and consultation as needed, and intensive services for the most vulnerable families. The expanding national network of HealthySteps sites aims to reach more than 1 million young children annually by 2032. The HealthySteps National Office at ZERO TO THREE provides sites with training, technical assistance, and a wide range of supports for implementing and sustaining HealthySteps. Learn more on the HealthySteps website.
I’m a Senior Training and Technical Assistance Specialist for HealthySteps who is passionate about the strategic and organic growth of our network. As the team continues to scale up HealthySteps around the country, I experience so much excitement thinking about the children and families whose lives will be significantly changed as a result of changing pediatric practices. I believe the best part about expansion is knowing that many more pediatric practices—a well-known and well-trusted source in all communities—will now have the capacity to address broader issues and challenges that parents often experience. Pediatric practices have been the go-to source of information for years, and HealthySteps Specialists become a part of that culture. In addition, training and interacting with new HealthySteps sites that are filling a gap in their practice or responding to a community need creates a sense of personal fulfillment for me.
But expanding HealthySteps brings challenges, too. Although offering HealthySteps services and supports in a practice is quite rewarding for children and families, it naturally causes a transformation in thinking and infrastructure for pediatric practices. Often, practices are not familiar with responding to a positive postpartum depression screen or considering referrals for addressing social determinants of health that are negatively affecting a family. It can be challenging for site administrators to build capacity and effectively engage in implementation planning that allows for such critical issues to be addressed. After all, pediatric practices were trained to handle health and physical development, not social and emotional development. As a training and technical assistance specialist, I am directly involved with the capacity building and implementation planning process for new sites. This process overall provides much guidance and oversight as sites plan for practice transformation and initial implementation.
As the HealthySteps network of pediatric sites grows, and as the National Office grows in our capacity to support the expanding network, I, too, continue to grow personally. Working closely with sites is both insightful and eye-opening. I have realized that each site is different and, like most organizations, have created their own unique culture. Providing support to various sites in the network allows me to stretch my thinking and my own capacity to respond to individual site needs. Our National Office team is so talented and responsive to sites—I continue to learn from team members’ innovative ways to support our network. I love working with the HealthySteps team as well as site teams! The connections that I’ve made continue to strengthen my passion for the work.