Background/ Why Is This Important?
Social Pediatrics initiatives provide access to primary health care and, where needed, streamlined referral for specialist assessments or treatment, while considering the social conditions that contribute to 'vulnerabilities'. Premises of the approach include: providing service in the neighborhood; recognizing the importance of enduring socially supportive relationships as conditions that mitigate risk for vulnerable children; and believing in the competence of children, families and their communities. It recognizes that tailoring programs to specific needs versus offering a "generic" program is more effective for children and youth facing complex challenges.
The RICHER (Responsive, Intersectoral-Interdisciplinary, Child-Community Health, Education, and Research) initiative, which is informed by social pediatrics, is a collaborative, interdisciplinary community initiative. RICHER provides access to primary health care services and, referral for specialized assessments or treatment, while also considering the social conditions that contribute to 'vulnerabilities'. RICHER seeks to enhance traditional clinical practice approaches by partnering with community organizations to mobilize social supports and create avenues for engagement to foster children's and families' connectedness.
What Actions Have Already Been Taken?
Where did this work start? Child Health BC in collaboration with the RICHER team organized two provincial workshops. The first one — Social Pediatrics: An Innovative Approach to Fostering Health in the Community — took place on September 25, 2009, with a second workshop on January 17, 2011. The purpose of these workshops was to bring together key stakeholders from across the province to learn more about social pediatrics and how this approach may support vulnerable children, youth and families.
Several research publications outline the efficacy and scalability of the RICHER model.
RICHER research has demonstrated that:
- Forming inter-sectoral partnerships fosters access to care along the continuum from prevention to specialized services.
- For families coping with multiple forms of adversity & managing complex health conditions relationship building between clinicians and families is associated with improved health outcomes.
- Working in inter-sectoral partnerships fosters responsiveness of care for families with complex health care needs.
- Healthcare outreach in partnership can foster access to care, improve early identification of disease/chronic health conditions improve health outcomes; and improve child development at the population level.
The RICHER initiative is recognized nationally and internationally as leading edge social pediatric care demonstrating how primary, specialty, tertiary, communities & public health can work together to improve outcomes.
Where Are We Now?
Child Health BC is working with the RICHER team to expand the social pediatrics model to other communities across BC.