At the end of 2021, more than two dozen funders came together for the first Early Relational Health (ERH) Funders Summit, co-sponsored by Einhorn Collaborative with the ERH Coordinating Center at the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP). These funders are part of a new community – the ERH Funders Community who are seeking opportunities for shared learning and connection to improve how we work together to advance early relational health and emotional connection between parents and their young children.
The ERH Funders Community shares a vision of a world where all parents can hold their children close and build a relationship rooted in deep emotional connection in the first hours, days, and weeks of their babies’ lives. Those same parents would also have time off from work – with pay – in order to continue strengthening their relationships with their children, creating habits of mutual, reciprocal, and responsive connection. Our communities would surround these families with organizations that help parents and babies repair and reconnect after moments of inevitable separation. Importantly, all families would be celebrated for the strengths they bring to their experience of early relational health – without judgment from family-facing organizations and professionals.
Areas identified for further exploration and collaboration at the 2021 ERH Funders Summit included:
- Scale ERH supports in pediatrics: National funders have been part of the Pediatrics Supporting Parents (PSP) initiative which has been actively focused on this effort for nearly five years, yet still seeks additional funders at the national and local levels.
- Leverage existing programs/platforms at the local level: Planning is underway for prototyping and spreading emotional connection training through Reach Out and Read in a collaborative effort housed at the CSSP ERH Coordinating Center.
- Explore opportunities in other settings beyond pediatrics: Several funders are developing, in collaboration with CSSP, a pilot of ERH training for a diverse birthing workforce that includes community health workers and doulas.
- Address systems barriers that impede provider uptake and disrupt parent-child connection: With an understanding that funding pilots and individual projects alone won’t be enough, the funders hope to learn from bright spots of innovative funding models that support ERH in several states across the country.
- Build a movement: The ERH Funders Community wishes to explore a public messaging campaign for ERH.
- Center family authority and experience: Funders are committed to parents and families being engaged in all of these efforts as co-designers throughout the work.