First 1,000 Days Suncoast Expansion Helps More Mothers and Babies

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Pictured: Tina Wilson, Family Navigator (left) Siena Kelley, Community Support Specialist (right) at a community station at Sarasota Medical Pregnancy Center. Photo courtesy of First 1,000 Days Suncoast.

During the first 1,000 days of life, 80 percent of a child's brain development occurs. First 1,000 Days Suncoast is a community initiative that helps families during pregnancy and their child during those important first 1,000 days, regardless of race, education or socio-economic status.

The initiative spearheaded by Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation in 2018, was formed to strengthen the systems of care serving families and babies. Since that time, it has united healthcare providers and nonprofit organizations to reduce systemic barriers, implement solutions proven to lead to better outcomes, and pilot innovative programmatic elements. The earlier the investment, the greater the return. This is Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation’s philosophy.

Using a robust care coordination platform, called Unite Us, initiative partner agencies have referred over 2,088 residents to behavioral, medical, and social services across the Suncoast region. To date, Sarasota Memorial Hospital Women and Children services itself has helped 1,394 families and sent 2,182 referrals.

Dr. Chelsea Arnold has been the Initiative Manager at Sarasota Memorial Health Care System for the past three years. She has seen firsthand the barriers families faced in trying to navigate a complex web of services. She knows how critical it was to address social determinants of health such as housing, food, financial assistance, etc. to improve a child’s overall health. For example, a poor living environment with mold, old carpets, and cockroaches can cause severe asthma attacks in young children. “I love my job now because I can really focus on preventative care right from the very beginning, before a baby is even born. I also get to work with and learn from many collaborative and incredible non-profit, philanthropic, and healthcare community leaders across the region,” says Arnold.

The First 1000 Days Suncoast team members are experts on services available for pregnant individuals and families with children 0-3 years of age. They reach out directly to families and refer them to support across the community. According to Arnold, “This support is particularly helpful for families who are not connected with a service provider or case manager. This first interaction with our small but mighty team (Tina Wilson, Family Navigator, and Siena Kelley, Community Support Specialist) forms a trusted relationship with a compassionate and knowledgeable professional.” Families are often connected with support services in less than 24 hours from point of contact.

Recently, the initiative elected leaders and expanded membership on its Steering Committee to reflect their new four-county regional focus. Now, even more mothers and babies will be helped through First 1,000 Days Suncoast. Kameron Hodgens, Chief Executive Officer of The Glasser/Schoenbaum Human Services Center was elected chair of the First 1,000 Days Steering Committee. The Steering Committee represents the 80+ nonprofit, government and healthcare partners who all work together on First 1,000 Days to form a supportive safety net for mothers and babies. Hodgens, and fellow committee volunteers, oversee the initiative’s governance, fiduciary and strategic direction. Six new committee members have joined to represent Charlotte, DeSoto and Manatee counties, as well as deepening strategic emphasis on areas of public health, child welfare, and service to Latino families. Their involvement will support the initiative’s regional expansion to connect with babies and families who are born or receive care at Sarasota Memorial Hospital but live in surrounding communities. Parents in need of support for themselves or their child, can visit First1000srq.com to submit an assistance request form to begin the process.

 

Pictured: Tina Wilson, Family Navigator (left) Siena Kelley, Community Support Specialist (right) at a community station at Sarasota Medical Pregnancy Center. Photo courtesy of First 1,000 Days Suncoast.

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