In almost every health-related course I have took in school, the curriculum covers the same information: drugs and alcohol, mental health, chronic and communicable . . .
The medical home is high quality, comprehensive health care for children that is family centered, accessible and coordinated. Doctors have tremendous access to young children and their families, seeing more children than any other service system. From prenatal to age five, families have over 20 regularly scheduled health care visits. When these visits take place in a fully realized medical home, they are a great way to provide a full range of supports to young children and their families.
However, the current conversation about strengthening the medical home is largely focused on chronic health problems in adults, even though the roots of chronic health problems can be traced to early childhood. As a result, opportunities for prevention, education, and engagement with families are missed.
A key component of the early childhood medical home is care coordination across a number of systems. In addition to traditional health promotion and prevention activities, the early childhood medical home should address:
- Social-emotional development of children; including positive parenting and addressing toxic stress
- Early learning – recognizing parents as first teachers and the critical role of access to quality child care environments
- Access to family supports, including family leave insurance, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and food stamps
Docs for Tots works with partners to bring attention to the unique potential of the early childhood medical home. To support our vision of the early childhood medical home, Docs for Tots:
- Highlights best practices and innovative models
- Facilitates communication between medical home and other early childhood settings
- Provides training and technical assistance to transform practice
- Emphasizes early childhood as Patient Centered Medical Home (the formal “certification” of clinical settings as a medical home) rolls out in states
- Brings new champions to advocate for improving the medical home’s capacity to support child development