Westside Infant-Family Network (WIN) joins Harvard University & other leading organizations working to influence national systems of change for young children

Culver City non-profit selected for nationwide program promoting innovation in the field of early childhood policy and practice

CULVER CITY, CA, December 7, 2012- Westside Infant-Family Network (WIN) has been selected as one of only 12 innovative programs in the nation to advise the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, and the TruePoint Center for High Performance and High Commitment on a project to achieve breakthrough  outcomes for young children through an initiative called Frontiers of Innovation (FOI).  This month, WIN attended the initiative’s second conference in Boston where the FOI Sites Advisory Council (SAC) convened to establish shared goals for the upcoming year.

Frontiers of Innovation is a diverse community designed to catalyze cross-sector, cross-disciplinary collaboration and high impact strategies for innovation in the field of early childhood policy and practice.  Launched in May 2011, the mission of the FOI community is to produce transformational thinking about how to enhance human potential by supporting the healthy development of young children, with particular focus on disadvantaged children and families. The work of the FOI initiative is centered on two core priorities:

1)       Forging cross-sector connections that foster new, innovative interventions and fresh thinking to significantly increase the impact of current early childhood programming;

2)       Accelerating innovation through a small portfolio of committed “Idea Groups” working in partnership with a cluster of community-based demonstration sites and state policy collaborations to develop, implement and test new intervention models and innovative policy ideas.

WHAT WIN DOES

WINprovides free, in-home mental health care to families with young children in collaboration with its three partner agencies—Westside Children’s Center, Venice Family Clinic, and St. Joseph Center.  Together, theWINnetwork connects families to an integrated “nest” of early care, health care, mental health care, social services and other community resources families facing multiple challenges need to stabilize and thrive.

In the seven years since the collaborative began, hundreds of families have been transformed.  Preschoolers who had been dismissed from care for violent behavior are now thriving at home and in school, parents who felt hopeless because of past trauma and current depression are sharing joy with their children, and violence and wounds passed from generation to generation have been laid to rest.  Most importantly, these outcomes, which have been made at a critical time in young children’s brain development, translate into futures of better physical and mental health, greater success in work and life, and ultimately, a happier, less violent community for everyone.

THE NEED FOR MENTAL HEALTH            

Just like adults, infants and toddlers suffer from mental health issues.  But untreated, impacts can be far more pernicious and entrenched, developing into lifetimes of mental and physical illness, behavior and educational problems, with root causes deeply embedded in brain structures and chemistry.  Children’s brains are particularly vulnerable to stress and trauma during this critical period when neural architectures are being formed, but therapy during this window is also more impactful than at other times in the human lifespan. WIN’s early therapeutic and case management interventions work to prevent long-term ill effects for children and families, as well as ongoing social costs to educational, medical and legal systems.

HOW THE FOI COMMUNITY WORKS- THREE MAJOR WORK STREAMS

Incubators & Engines

One of the primary sources of creative thinking in the FOI community is the growing number of working groups that serve as both incubators and engines of innovation. An FOI incubator stimulates new ideas and distills promising strategies into testable interventions, while an engine engages on-the-ground implementers in a collaborative effort to move from thought to action.

 Innovation by Design States

Innovation by Design (IBD) state policy collaborations aim for population-level, systemic changes that benefit young children using strategies intended to reduce barriers to learning and improve life-long health outcomes. This state policy focused community will offer an opportunity for structured collaboration across states where information is shared in a safe environment, problems are solved, and new ideas are nurtured.

Innovation by Design Sites

The Innovation by Design (IBD) site work stream seeks to form a consortium of community-based sites that are both motivated and prepared to engage in an interactive process of designing and piloting creative, new intervention strategies and contributing to active, cross-site learning.

The IBD sites, states and working groups will create a collaborative network with all members in the FOI community to cross-fertilize their ongoing initiatives to achieve greater impact for the early childhood field. Central to the success of this work will be the extent to which the initiative integrates expertise from a variety of sources and is guided by evidence-based theories of change. With the active engagement of scientists and scholars, policymakers and analysts, service providers, entrepreneurs from the private and nonprofit sectors, and creative thinkers from outside the early childhood field, the FOI initiative is primed to build on current best practices and harness innovation to achieve substantially greater impacts for children.

“It’s been an exciting process working with the FOI community, seeing the connections made and the potential taking shape to help further the policy and programming of early childhood development practices and programming,” shared Anna Henderson, WIN Executive Director.  “We are honored to have the opportunity to help inform such important work.”

 

About Westside Infant-Family Network

Westside Infant-Family Network (WIN) provides free, in-home mental health care to families with young children in collaboration with its three partner agencies—Westside Children’s Center, Venice Family Clinic, and St. Joseph Center.  Together, theWINnetwork connects families to an integrated “nest” of early care, health care, mental health care, social services and other community resources families facing multiple challenges need to stabilize and thrive.

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