The American Academy of Pediatrics has identified Early Brain and Child Development (EBCD) as a strategic priority. If infants and young children do not have supportive, nurturing relationships, significant adversity in childhood such as poverty, abuse, or parental depression can become "toxic," altering the way their brains develop. In this way, "toxic stress" influences behavior, health, and learning not just in childhood, but for decades to come. For more information on toxic stress and its impact on both child development and life course trajectories, see the recent AAP Policy Statement and Technical Report on toxic stress and the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.
The AAP urges pediatricians to "Forge Futures and Build Brains" to help ensure that all children enter school ready to learn. Pediatricians are ideally placed: 1) to nurture the safe, secure and nurturing relationships that buffer children against toxic stress, and 2) to identify and assist those families at high risk for toxic stress, and 3) to advocate for and collaborate with community organizations to eliminate potential causes of toxic stress including poverty, low literacy, violence, homelessness, food scarcity, parental mental illness or substance abuse, etc. Because many of the key factors that influence EBCD exist outside the walls of your clinic, pediatricians will need to partner with other local resources to be effective.
If you are interested in getting started, a CATCH planning grant could help. You could use the grant to help you:
· Identify, convene, and plan with like-minded community partners
· Gather information about the needs of children and families in your community
· Identify the existing resources in your community that promote the healthy development of young children, especially those in disadvantaged families
· Develop plans to coordinate and expand the existing resources to help more children and families
Previous CATCH grantees have used funds to:
· Improve developmental screening and referral
· Collaborate with child care providers
· Plan home visitation and other parenting support programs
· Create systems for children in foster care
· Build programs that promote early literacy
The mission of CATCH program is to support pediatricians to collaborate in their communities to ensure that all children have access to all needed health services and a medical home.
Important Things to Keep In Mind
- Be sure to read the application guidance.
- Ask for help. You receive extra points for asking for help. Seriously! Please contact your chapter CATCH facilitator and AAP CATCH staff.
- The next deadline for applications is July 31, 2012.
Go to www.aap.org/CATCH to find out more.