Tools and Resources for Advancing Child and Adolescent Health Through Collaboration with Families and Communities
Haily Stillabower, MPH, American Academy of Pediatrics
Kathy Janies, American Academy of Pediatrics
Jane Bassewitz, MA, American Academy of Pediatrics
Bright Futures, a national pediatric health promotion and disease prevention initiative, provides a framework and common language to unite public health professionals, health care professionals, families, and communities to strengthen the overall health and wellness of children and families. The Bright Futures’ principles value each child, the vitality of family, and community connectedness (locally, nationally, and globally). Optimal well-being for children and families requires effective coordination between multiple disciplines. The Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, 4th Edition,provides guidance for preventive care and well-visits from age 0 through age 21.
As maternal and child health (MCH) professionals, we know that well-visits are critical to provide continued surveillance and screening for social-emotional and behavioral concerns as well as age-appropriate anticipatory guidance. We also know that children are cared for in a variety of settings. , can be adapted to any setting, including public health clinics, school-based clinics, home visiting programs, or Head Start. For example, public health educators can use the health promotion themes and anticipatory guidance to teach students and staff about the complexity Bright Futures Guidelines, 4th Edition and opportunities of the well-visit. Home visiting and Head Start staff also can apply the guidance directly with families to better understand children’s health and developmental needs. To connect directly with families, Bright Futures published a tip sheet entitled The Well-Child Visit: Why Go and What to Expect, as a resource to help families prepare for their child’s well-visit (available in English and Spanish).
The global coronavirus pandemic has created significant additional challenges for communities as they try to address the health and wellness needs of their children and families. For example, the number of well-visits have plummeted, resulting in vaccination delays and gaps in screenings and referrals as well as anticipatory guidance to promote optimal health. To encourage well-visits, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) launched a social media campaign, #CallYourPediatrician. The campaign uses empathy and humor to connect with families whose lives have been upended during the pandemic. Social media graphics, videos, and messages encourage families to make a call to their pediatric health care professional. The campaign provides timely reminders to parents that pediatrician visits, even during COVID-19, are important and safe. Heathychildren.org published a companion webpage to reinforce the importance of well-visits during COVID-19. MCH programs can leverage these resources by strategically sharing them with local, community, and state partners (including their AAP Chapter) who can disseminate these messages to the families they interact with.
It is essential to use Bright Futures Guidelines, 4th Edition, across multiple settings—now more than ever. These guidelines and resources stress the need for collaboration among health care professionals, public health professionals, families, child care professionals, and communities. Working together is critical to meet families where they are and to promote optimal health and to focus on pediatric health concerns now, and in the future.