Home Magazine article The first 1,000-day marathon – Feature :: SRQ Magazine article by Abby Weingarten

The first 1,000-day marathon – Feature :: SRQ Magazine article by Abby Weingarten


A pregnant single mother with three children under fiverecently arrived at Sarasota Memorial Hospital and needed transitional housing, transportation, child care and baby supplies. Not knowing how to take care of herself or her growing family, she didn’t know where to turn or what to do. Luckily the folks at First 1,000 Days Suncoast did.

“We’re helping the most vulnerable mothers and families,” says Kelly Romanoff, of the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation’s Office of Innovation and Impact, who led Suncoast’s First 1,000 Days in 2018. We prevent them from slipping through the cracks.” First 1,000 Days Suncoast (hosted within the Sarasota Memorial Health Care System (SMHCS), is a community-based initiative that supports parents, caregivers, and their babies, so all families have the same opportunity to thrive, regardless of race, education, or socioeconomic status.A member of The Basics Learning Network, the program helps families during pregnancy and the first 1,000 days of their child’s life (when 80% of the child’s brain development child occurs).

A community network

A partnership of nonprofit organizations and healthcare providers is creating a network of free and affordable services for these families. And, in January, the steering committee that oversees the strategic direction of this network expanded to reflect a new regional focus of four counties.

“This initiative started in Sarasota, and it’s been amazing to see the interest and response from our three neighboring counties,” said Kameron Hodgens, Ph.D., executive director of the Glasser/Schoenbaum Human Services Center as this article has been published. writing, who was recently elected chair of Suncoast’s First 1,000 Days Steering Committee. “As a mother who lives in Manatee County and works in Sarasota, I know county lines mean very little when accessing health care for your children. I am proud to be part of this steering committee as we make this a more regional effort.

Six new members also joined the steering committee to represent Charlotte, DeSoto, and Manatee counties, and to deepen the focus on public health, child welfare, and Latino family services: Angie Matthiesen, Executive Director of United Way of Charlotte County; Katie Powers, nurse and clinical manager at Manatee Memorial Hospital; MJ Horen, program director of the DeSoto Food and Resource Center of All Faiths Food Bank; Lisa Abello, pediatrician and chief medical officer of CenterPlace Health; Luz Corcuera, Executive Director of UnidosNow; and Nathan Scott of Circuit 12 Child Welfare Policy Coordination for the Sarasota County Florida Department of Health.

Their involvement will help the First 1,000 Days Suncoast team connect with babies and families who are born or receive care at Sarasota Memorial Hospital but live nearby.

A wider reach

Nearly 45% of babies born in the hospital each year reside in a nearby county. The organization will therefore connect these families with community partners to create a coordinated system of care.

“Specific to reach the ‘bottom 10 percent’ of those most in need, Sarasota Memorial Hospital now screens all pregnant women who come to the hospital for social determinants of health,” Romanoff says. “The hospital has an OB emergency room for pregnant women, where they report when they are in labor and everything is fine. But it’s also where many women present with complications or signs of early labor. All pregnant women pass through this department and it is an ideal intercept for first 1,000 day services.

OB emergency room nurses screen these mothers for environmental, emotional, and social factors that influence their well-being.

“Despite their direct link to physical well-being, many healthcare facilities are reluctant to ask questions about living conditions, domestic violence, food insecurity, etc. because they don’t want to be responsible for resolving issues. these “non-medical” issues,” Romanoff says. “Sarasota Memorial Hospital is different, and it’s all thanks to the ‘Unite Us’ first 1,000 day referral system.”

On the first day of the new screening process, a nurse assisted the aforementioned pregnant single mother (who came to Sarasota Memorial Hospital looking for housing) by making seven referrals through Unite Us. In less than 24 hours, two of the mother’s three young children had already been picked up and the mother was connected with the Early Learning Coalition (for childcare) and Better Together (which provides peer support to help prevent children from enter foster care).

“If this mother had gone to Sarasota Memorial Hospital the week before, her fate would have been entirely different. She would have left the hospital without any of those relationships,” Romanoff says. “Now when she goes into labor and returns to hospital, social workers will be flagged and the First 1000 Days team will be there to welcome and support her and her children. She and her children are not alone in their struggles. We are grateful to Sarasota Memorial Hospital for their compassionate and innovative approach to health care.

A benevolent view

So what initially inspired the creation of First 1,000 Days Suncoast? It all started with Charles and Margery Barancik, founders of the Barancik Foundation, who asked their staff to research how to address summer learning loss for students. Talking with community partners, Barancik’s team learned a valuable lesson that now guides their approach to philanthropy: “The earlier the investment, the greater the return. »

“We realized that if we really wanted to make a difference in educational preparedness and community well-being, we had to start before a child was even born, ensuring that families had the necessary support to lay a solid foundation in their lives,” says Romanoff.

Beginning in 2016, the Barancik Foundation team spent more than a year, alongside Sarasota Memorial Hospital and 31 other partners, exploring how the community could better provide families with the foundational support they needed during the critical early years of babies.

“First 1,000 Days Suncoast coordinates services to make it easy for families to connect to community supports,” says Romanoff. “Before, there was a real maze of resources that parents had to navigate if they needed help during and after their pregnancy.”

A dedicated team

Chelsea Arnold, DNP, APRN, is the initiative lead for First 1,000 Days Suncoast. She works with Family Navigator Tina Wilson and Community Support Specialist Siena Kelley. Their initiative, which began in Sarasota County with 32 partners, has now expanded to include Manatee, DeSoto and Charlotte counties with more than 85 partner organizations, Arnold says. The SMHCS is the backbone of the organization, providing strong technical, legal, clinical and marketing support.

“Our team not only helps families navigate the care system by connecting them with local medical, mental health and social services provided by our partner agencies,” says Arnold. “But they also facilitate community meetings and task forces to address systemic barriers to care, and they introduce agencies and professionals to build new partnerships and fill gaps in services identified by the community.”

One of the biggest and most important initiatives of the initiative is the creation of a regional parent advisory committee. “Parent voice” is considered the most valuable aspect of the initiative, and First 1,000 Days Suncoast aims to ensure parents and caregivers are empowered to be leaders in their own communities, Arnold says. This program has already had an impact on the region in multiple ways.

“We’ve built new partnerships between organizations to better serve families and listened to the voices of parents to create programs that are effective, sustainable, and helpful,” says Arnold. “We provided parents with educational tools and resources to help their child develop and thrive, and raised awareness of early brain development and the critical nature of the early years through a region-wide campaign. We also identified and addressed barriers to care by bringing together community experts and supporting professionals with training opportunities (on topics such as trauma-informed care).

The Glasser/Schoenbaum Human Services Center was an “early adopter” of the concept of creating this easily accessible community support network for mothers and babies, Hodgens says.

“Research shows that access to high-quality prenatal care, as well as postpartum support services for mothers and babies, play a vital role in the overall health and well-being of a family,” Hodgens said. “Having a child is not an easy process. Parents should never feel isolated or unanswered when living in a community like ours that is full of supportive resources.