American Academy of Pediatrics Encourages Pediatricians to Collaborate With Community Groups to Strengthen Families

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement on Monday that reminds pediatricians of the growing body of research linking brain growth and development in infants to the relationships they form during early childhood, and how exposure to family stress (including stress resulting form poverty and related issues) during the early stages of childhood development can lead to mental, intellectual and physical problems later in life. The AAP statement recommends that pediatricians “develop their expertise in assessing the strengths and stresses in families, in counseling families about strategies and resources, and in collaborating with others in their communities to support family relationships.”

That last recommendation is particularly helpful, I think, for those interested in building stronger links between community-based adult and family literacy programs and pediatric caregivers. The authors suggest that pediatricians become more familiar with the variety of different community-based family support program models, and they include skills training and literacy education among the types of programming that “promote parental competencies and behaviors that contribute to parental and infant/child/adolescent health and development:”

Many comprehensive, community based family support programs have been established around the country. These programs aim to support family relationships and promote parental competencies and behaviors that contribute to parental and infant/child/adolescent health and development. The best programs offer a spectrum of services that involve informal and structured groups. Topics may include information on child development, personal growth, family relationships, parenting education, peer support groups, parent-child activities, early developmental screening, community referral and follow-up, job skills training, and/or adult education, especially language and literacy education. (my emphasis)

Among the recommendations: “Pediatricians should work to identify, develop, refer to, and participate in community-based family support programs to help parents secure the knowledge, skills, support and strategies they need to raise their children.”

In addition:

Pediatricians should actively participate in sustaining the social capacity of their communities through their personal participation in local recreational, social, educational, civic, or philanthropic activities and associations. By participating in community-based family support programs, pediatricians can provide technical advice on health and safety aspects of services, serve as a source of professional information for families, and best to contribute to the healthy development of children, families, and communities.

Reading this, I wondered how often pediatricans are recruited to serve on the board of directors or as advisors to local community-based literacy organizations.

 h/t Los Angeles Times