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Supporting Parent and Caregiver Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being

This event was held on October 21, 2021 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm EDT

photo of baby holding person's fingers
Photo by Liv Bruce on Unsplash

On October 21st, ECFC’s 3rd Thursday programming featured a discussion around how funders are supporting parent and caregiver mental health and emotional wellbeing, and the impact on early relational health – relationships and bonding between young children and their parents/caregivers. While some funders are deep in these issues, we have not done enough in philanthropic arenas to weave together the impact of the mental health and emotional wellbeing of parents and caregivers on early relational health and the social-emotional development of young children.

Our discussion featured four funders illustrating different, yet complimentary pathways into supporting maternal and caregiver mental wellbeing that create the conditions for positive child outcomes.  We explored: multiple entry points to this work for funders, ways to plug in with like-minded funders, and how funders can strengthen supports for parent and caregiver mental health and emotional wellbeing in their existing portfolios.

Event Takeaways

Our discussion featured four funders illustrating different, yet complimentary pathways into supporting maternal and caregiver mental wellbeing that create the conditions for positive child outcomes. Funder perspectives and entry points we discussed included:

Perigee Fund's focus on prenatal to three mental health focus, including infant and early childhood and maternal, parent and caregiver mental health, and centering those affected by trauma and toxic stress.  Related: MAKING the CASE: Why Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Matters.

ZOMA Foundation's focus on perinatal mental health care including their work to transform perinatal mental health care across a Colorado hospital system. Related: A Toolkit for Implementing a Perinatal Behavioral Health Program within the Obstetric Setting, September 2021, case study by SCL Health in partnership with ZOMA Foundation; Colorado Maternal Mental Health Collaborative Framework; and Colorado Dept. of Public Health, Postpartum Behavioral Health report (Feb 2021).

Irving Harris Foundation's focus on infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH), including the work of their Harris Professional Development Network (PDN), a network of 19 grantees led by IECMH and child trauma experts who contribute to their respective communities by training the ECMH workforce and contributing to the integration of mental health and child trauma principles into services and systems that serve pregnant women and very young children.  Among the contributions of PDN grantees is this suite of resources for creating Meaningful Family Time for young children in the child welfare system, and this Infant Mental Health Journal, Special Issue on Infant Mental Health and Reproductive Health and Justice, informed and co-authored by Harris Professional Development Network Grantees.

The Burke Foundation's  early relational health lens shaped around adverse childhood experiences, focusing on reducing sources of stress for families, strengthening core life skills, and supporting responsive parent/caregiver relationships with young children.  Learn more about their lens for this work: Adverse Childhood Experiences: Opportunities to Prevent, Protect Against, and Heal from the Effects of ACEs in New Jersey, in partnership with The Nicholson Foundation, Turrell Fund, and FSG; NJ Statewide ACES Action Plan, an initiative of the ACEs Collaborative – partnership between The Burke Foundation, The Nicholson Foundation, Turrell Fund, and NJ Department of Children and Families; NJ Powerful Families, Powerful Communities, a collaboration to design a family and community-driven model that will transform child welfare by creating a bold, new, child and family well-being system for New Jersey, and obsolete the need for non-kin foster care.

Discussion also touched on IECMH workforce issues (in rural areas; development an IECMH workforce that ensures clinicians and leaders represent the communities being served, including multi-lingual providers); supporting policy where it shows up in communities; how paid leave impacts parent, caregiver and infant health.  Related: Paid Family Leave, How Much is Enough? This New America Interactive Timeline and Report scans some of the best U.S. and international research to lay out how the length of paid family leave impacts four areas: infant and child health and wellbeing, maternal health and wellbeing, gender equality, and businesses and the economy.

Additional resources shared by speakers before and during our discussion are included in the Archived PowerPoint presentation.

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