Children’s Hospital only U.S. pediatric hospital selected for neuroscience initiative

The Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin was selected as one of 15 nonprofit and non-governmental organization sites in the United States and Canada to participate in “Change in Mind: Apply Neuroscience to Revitalize Communities,” a three-year initiative of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Norlien Foundation. The Children’s Hospital is the only children’s hospital in the nation that was chosen to participate in the Change in Mind initiative.

The ultimate goal of the initiative is to better align health care and social systems with established brain science to determine if research on the effects of stress on the brain can be used to transform policies that address some of the most difficult social issues facing our communities.

“Children’s was selected because of our focus on family preservation and our work to help reverse the negative effects of adverse experiences on kids’ developing brains,” said Bob Duncan, executive vice president for Community Services at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. “Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin treats approximately 7,000 child abuse victims every year – more than 10 times the number of pediatric heart cases we see annually. Our goal is to reduce that number by improving and expanding prevention and intervention programs for families in need.”

As a participant in the Change in Mind initiative, Children’s will work to enhance its Strong Families, Thriving Children well-being framework to serve as a resource for policymakers on best practices for child abuse prevention, family preservation and child welfare.

The Strong Families, Thriving Children approach focuses on assessing child and parent functioning and providing evidence-based interventions. It serves to provide a unifying approach across Children’s range of family service programs, from child welfare and foster parent licensing to home visiting and counseling – all of which address the negative impacts of childhood adversity on brain development.

The Children’s Hospital also plans to create additional capacity for evidence-based family interventions by adding new staff trained at Children’s to deliver Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT). PCIT is a research-based intervention for young children with emotional and behavioral issues that places emphasis on improving the quality of the parent-child relationship and changing parent-child interaction patterns.

By partnering with researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Children’s will work to translate neuroscience research to practice by adding components of PCIT into more family preservation programs around the region.

“The participation of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in this exciting initiative shows that there is no more uniquely qualified sector than the nonprofit sector to lead larger systems change by aligning policy, regulatory and fiscal areas with established brain science,” said Susan Dreyfus, president and chief executive officer of the Alliance.

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