The Harris Healthy Infant Program (HHIP) is a new program initiatve, being funded through a new 2-year award from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation (press release). Its goals are to promote early childhood mental, physical, and socal well-being for vulnerable, underserved young children and their families by:
- Increasing acess to integrated healthcare services for medically fragile young children
- Optimizing babies' first food experiences by enhancing mother-infant relationships and supporting families facing challenges with feeding, sleeping, and crying
- Building the capacity of early childhood professionals
- Promoting awareness of young child well-being using early childhood mental health (ECMH) approaches
HHIP services and activities will create access to high quality healthcare for underserved young children and promote high quality nutrition through breastfeeding management and support across Colorado and New Mexico. Through these services and activities, HHIP specialists will support parents and healthcare providers in cultivating loving, nurturing relationships between young children and their caregivers.
The four HHIP goals and how they will be achieved:
HHIP specialists will serve high risk babies and families in health care settings and facilitate a connection to a medical home. HHIP specialists will be integrated into pediatric primary care to provide services, including mental health consultation, developmental screening, and treatment to families and their babies.
HHIP will provide infant mental health services to enhance mother-baby bonding and promote breastfeeding and healthy development in high risk populations. Parents of medically fragile infants, infants with excessive crying, and parents living in poverty will be offered counseling and developmental guidance to improve relationships and promote breastfeeding. HHIP specialists will be integrated into Lactation Teams serving hospitalized babies and consult with outpatient lactation clinics. Home visit services will enhance clinic care.
HHIP specialists will educate health and early care providers to identify and meet the needs of young children with behavioral, emotional and developmental challenges, increasing the providers’ ability and competence in serving young children. Postdoctoral fellows will be trained as HHIP specialists to increase the professional workforce and system capacity as well as engage in policy work/advocacy around early childhood mental health.
Marketing, public awareness campaigns, and public engagement will support families of young children, including medically fragile babies with excessive crying, poor sleep, and feeding difficulties. These efforts, in combination with community outreach, training, and direct services, will increase awareness of young child well-being.
- Karen A. Frankel, PhD
- Joy V. Browne, PhD
- Maya Bunik, MD
- Ayelet Talmi, PhD
- Amanda Milar
- Melissa Sinclair, MA, CPC