August 27, 2021
The early childhood period of growth and development is a critical time in a person’s life, laying the foundation for life-long health and well-being. However, the National Survey of Children’s Health Data indicates that only 51% of children ages 3–5 are “on track” in all four Healthy and Ready to Learn domains—early learning skills, self-regulation, social-emotional development, and physical well-being and motor development.
Multiple factors contribute to disparities in early childhood outcomes, including economic hardship, lack of access to healthcare, and adverse childhood experiences. The good news is that early investment in strengthening caregivers’ life skills, reducing family stress, and supporting relationships between children and adults can lead to large, long-term gains in well-being.
In July, HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) funded cooperative agreements in 20 states to build integrated maternal and early childhood comprehensive systems of care (ECCS) that are equitable, sustainable, and inclusive of the health system. MCHB has enlisted Altarum in a 5-year project to lead the Bureau’s new Early Childhood Systems Technical Assistance and Coordination Center (ECS TACC) supporting those recipients in achieving their goals, accelerating progress, and measuring their success. Recognizing that the health of caregivers and children are deeply intertwined, the multigenerational program will focus on the prenatal to 3 population.
Altarum has long prioritized services that address women’s prenatal needs in tandem with the needs of their children. In addition to providing best practices and subject matter expertise in improving maternal health, Altarum and a team of ECS TACC partners will assist the cooperative agreement recipients by providing systems improvement guidance, facilitating partnership development, developing evaluation plans, and supporting performance measurement and quality improvement activities for ECCS programs.
Altarum brings 20 years of experience working with HRSA, MCHB programs, and state health agencies, including operating the MCH Workforce Performance and Capacity Building Center. We’ve conducted policy analyses of the Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program and needs assessment analysis for the Title-V program.
To gather the diverse expertise needed for the ECS coordinating center, Altarum has partnered with Change Matrix LLC, Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development, James Bell Associates, and consultants from the Morehouse School of Medicine Center for Maternal Health Equity. Our blended leadership team includes experts in evaluation and measurement, health equity, systems integration, behavioral health and mental health services and systems, health value measurement and assessment, health care policy analysis, and data systems integration.
To reduce disparities, investments in early childhood must begin in the prenatal period. By strengthening integrated systems targeting the prenatal to 3 population, MCHB has connected and expanded its long-standing investments in both areas to increase family well-being and family-centered access to care and promote a comprehensive, inclusive, and equitable health system which enables all mothers, children, and families to thrive.