The New Jersey Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics (NJAAP) was awarded a four-year cooperative agreement from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to transform how pediatric primary care is delivered for prenatal-to-five-year-old (P-5) populations eligible for NJ FamilyCare or who are uninsured.
This initiative will bring together a diverse group of medical experts in pediatrics and obstetrics, parent advocates, and HealthySteps (HS) practice leaders to improve early developmental and social-emotional health, school readiness, family well-being, and health equity outcomes.
The HS model from ZERO TO THREE integrates a child-development professional, called a HealthySteps specialist, into the pediatric primary care team. This specialist connects families with additional services and community resources according to the needs and comfort of the families.
New Jersey is one of four states selected to receive this HRSA funding, with an additional award made to ZERO TO THREE support the establishment of the Early Childhood Developmental Health Systems Evidence to Impact National Center to support state’s efforts.
“The HRSA investment in pediatric primary care transformation is a groundbreaking commitment from the federal government to better support our nation’s babies and toddlers,” emphasized HealthySteps National Director, Rahil Briggs, PsyD. “New Jersey joined the HealthySteps network in 2021 as part of a locally driven effort to strengthen supports to families through a HealthySteps pilot initiative in partnership with Hackensack Meridian Health, The Burke Foundation, The Nicholson Foundation, and the Turrell Fund. NJAAP’s TPEC award takes that work to the next level. The HealthySteps National Office is proud to partner with NJAAP in transforming the way NJ families experience healthcare and helping them to thrive.”
“NJAAP’s TPEC award is going to expand the number of young children and families who have access to HealthySteps in two communities in New Jersey where significant health disparities exist,” said Pamela Winkler Tew, LSW, Senior Policy Analyst & HealthySteps New Jersey Lead. “This is a critical next step in our goal of making sure all of New Jersey’s babies and toddlers have access to evidence-based supports like HealthySteps, to ensure a strong start in life.”
First-year funding of $1 million will catalyze the growth of HS in NJ.
Over the four-year project period, NJSEEDlings will build critical infrastructure to advance early developmental health and family strengthening efforts in the state by funding the launch of eight additional HS sites, connecting all new and existing New Jersey-based HS sites to one another, and offering comprehensive ECD education to all HS sites throughout the state.
“This cooperative agreement provides an exciting opportunity to build on NJAAP’s work in addressing disparities by supporting families during the critical prenatal to 5-year period that sets the stage for long-term outcomes,” noted Usha Ramachandran, MD, FAAP, NJAAP’s Early Childhood Champion. “Through building partnerships with parents and key stakeholders, and adopting a collaborative learning approach, we hope to bring about a transformation of pediatric primary care that emphasizes a family- centered, strengths-based approach to support family well-being and infant-caregiver relationships and promote early childhood development. By integrating evidence-based programs such as Reach Out and Read and the Keystones of Development curriculum, we will equip pediatric practices to adopt universal promotion and prevention efforts with all families, along with additional supports based on family needs and risks through HealthySteps.”