In spite of great strides in our understanding of early child behavioral development and in the creation of evidence-based psychological interventions to improve parenting and young child outcomes, the field of developmental science has not yet had significant impact on improving population-level outcomes for young children. Part of the explanation for this failure may be that interventions created in the laboratory for later scaling up to communities fail to take into account community-level challenges. The Family Connects intervention was designed at the outset as a new Preventive System of Care to have an impact on promoting infant healthy development and lowering child maltreatment rates for entire populations.
Family Connects has three major components:
- community alignment of all agencies that provide effective resources to families, in the form of an electronic directory;
- universal post-birth nurse home visits to families to screen, identify psychological needs, and connect families with individually-tailored community resources; and
- an integrated data system to monitor implementation, assess fidelity, and evaluate impact.
Two randomized controlled trials and a field quasi-experiment to evaluate implementation and impact indicate that Family Connects can be implemented with high (>805) penetration rates with strong fidelity and has positive impact on increasing population rates of family connectedness, improving parenting, and lowering official rates of child maltreatment and medical injuries. Family Connects is now being disseminated widely. This talk will conclude with a discussion of how public policies can support a system of care for children and families.