Children's Health Initiative: Overview


Children’s Health Initiative

HealthPartners and Park Nicollet want every child to have a healthy start and bright future. The quality of life children have in their first five years strongly predicts their well-being as adults. Our doctors and care teams aim to be partners in parenting for our members and patients. And, we’re leading the charge in asking our community to put children’s health first. Let’s work together to promote early childhood brain development. It’s as easy as encouraging parents to read, talk and sing with their children starting from day 1. Take a look at these Twin Cities leaders who are already on board.

Through a variety of prenatal and early childhood programs and services (PDF), our Children’s Health Initiative focuses on:

1) Promoting early brain development
2) Providing family-centered care
3) Strengthening communities

Our doctors and care teams aim to be partners in parenting for our members and patients. Check out their tips and tools for moms, dads and caregivers on our Health Matters blog. And, hear more from our medical leaders about why these efforts matter so much.

Featured efforts

Read, talk, sing

Young children’s brains grow and develop as their parents read, talk and sing with them. To encourage parents to nurture this early brain development, our primary care clinics participate in the national Reach Out and Read program. Each time a family comes in for a well-child visit between six months and five years, they talk with our care teams about the importance of reading, and go home with a new children’s book. It’s our goal to help all of the children in our care develop the reading skills they need to enter kindergarten and have success in school.

Watch a video to see Reach Out and Read in action.

Learn more about early childhood brain development

Universal postpartum depression screening

The birth of a new baby triggers excitement and pride, and, as new parents know, some stress and anxiety. However, it’s rarely talked about that one in seven mothers also experience extreme sadness, loss of concentration, fatigue and hopelessness – leading to emotional, behavioral and cognitive issues for their babies. To identify more moms who have postpartum depression, and treat them earlier, we routinely screens all new moms each time they bring their babies to see a pediatrician for a well-child visit and connect them with a behavioral health therapist if needed.

Meet Amy to learn more about postpartum depression through the eyes of a woman who experienced it herself.

Healthy Beginnings program

When a mother uses alcohol, tobacco or other drugs during her pregnancy, she puts her child at risk for premature birth and physical and mental disabilities. That’s why we screen every woman who comes to our clinics for pregnancy care with a questionnaire and urine drug test. We then connect our Healthy Beginnings social workers and nurses with women who are identified as using drugs, tobacco or alcohol, or as having issues with mental health, homelessness or domestic abuse. These professionals become the women’s counselors for the duration of their pregnancy, providing non-judgmental support to set and achieve realistic abstinence goals so that their babies can have the best possible start.

Meet Cheri to learn more about Healthy Beginnings through the eyes of a woman who received help from the program herself.