The Oregon Pediatric Improvement Partnership at Oregon Health & Science University has received nearly $4 million in federal funding to advance early childhood development in Oregon communities.
The grant program — called Transforming Pediatrics for Early Childhood and awarded by the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration — is a four-year cooperative agreement focused on improving equitable access to a continuum of early childhood development services in primary care settings for children, ages birth to 5 years.
The early years of a child’s life are the foundation for physical and emotional growth. Healthy development during this time can improve not only a child’s physical capacity, but also their social and emotional learning skills, which contribute to the self-awareness, self-control and interpersonal skills needed to succeed in school and other environments. The work of the Oregon Pediatric Improvement Partnership, known as OPIP, will focus on improving the capacity and quality of the workforce needed to deliver high-quality early childhood development services in primary care that address the comprehensive needs of children and families.
“People don’t often think about the development that happens in early childhood, but these are very important years for the health and well-being of a child,” said Colleen Reuland, M.S., director of OPIP at OHSU and an instructor in pediatrics in the OHSU School of Medicine. “Having the right resources at this critical life stage can change the trajectory of a child’s life. This work will enable providers to deliver the programs and services needed to ensure that families can build a strong foundation for their child’s school readiness and life-long health.”
The OPIP program will work to support a holistic and multigenerational approach to early childhood development, leveraging Oregon’s existing health systems and primary care providers as partners. Efforts will address a continuum of care, including behavioral health, early care and education, child welfare and other family support services.
To begin, OPIP will focus on supporting four diverse primary care pilot sites in the Portland metro area, serving more than 9,000 families with children ages birth to 5 years, and will establish a “learning collaborative” among sites. The learning collaborative aims to increase the number of early childhood development experts trained and placed in pediatric care settings; increase the quality and availability of early childhood development services; and, improve training, knowledge and competency among staff. There will also be an emphasis on shared learning across pilot sites, providing the opportunity to address common issues, including health inequities, barriers for sustainability and gaps in the workforce.
OPIP also plans to address health equity and social and structural determinants of health. Work funded by the program will focus on identifying specific needs of priority groups, including historically marginalized populations, as well as those who face barriers to accessing care, such as individuals living rural communities.
Looking ahead, Reuland notes the team’s priority is delivering services beyond the project’s pilot sites. “We want to ensure these efforts are not only sustainable, but scalable,” she said. “As we move through this work, we plan to engage with both system- and state-level policymakers and stakeholders to ensure every child — no matter their zip code, health history, or personal background — has the support they need to thrive.”
The Transforming Pediatrics for Early Childhood (TPEC) project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $3,991,229.00 with zero percentage financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit HRSA.gov.