Federal Grant Supports Developmental Screening, Intervention, Other Services for Children through Wheeler’s Five Community Health Centers
Comprehensive Supports for Families Now Available
PLAINVILLE, Conn. (September 26, 2023) – A two-year, $400,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) will help Wheeler improve developmental outcomes for children ages birth through five through increased screenings and follow-up care. Services are offered through its five community health centers in Bristol, Hartford, New Britain, Plainville, and Waterbury.
In August 2023, during National Health Center Week, HRSA awarded approximately $30 million to 151 HRSA-funded health centers nationally through the Early Childhood Development (ECD) grant program.
In Fiscal Year 2023, Wheeler is among four organizations in Connecticut to receive awards totaling $800,000 and is delivering services through the Wheeler Integrated Pediatric Early Development Services (WIPEDS) program.
WIPEDS program area highlights:
- Expansion of the HealthySteps pediatric primary care model to all Wheeler community health centers. Launched at Wheeler’s Hartford Family Health & Wellness Center in 2019, and the first in Connecticut, this national, evidence-based, interdisciplinary pediatric primary care program promotes positive parenting and healthy development for babies and toddlers, with an emphasis on serving families living in low-income communities. A program of ZERO TO THREE, the program focuses on the importance of early screening and intervention in children and is designed to strengthen parent-child bonds through screening, referral, and treatment, as well as identify gaps in care. In addition to Hartford, this program is now offered at the organization’s community health centers in Bristol, Plainville, New Britain, and Waterbury.
- Addressing Unmet Needs or Barriers. From financial strain, to food and housing insecurity, utility needs, substance use and more, there are often barriers that prevent families from receiving care. WIPEDS addresses needs through screenings and risk assessments, engagement, linkages to whole-health services and community resources, outreach efforts, and referrals to additional developmental interventions and follow-up services.
- Engaging caregivers and/or families in recommended developmental screening and follow-up services. Family members are an important part of the care process, and HealthySteps specialists serve as liaisons to bridge the gap between the patient and family and their healthcare providers. Specialists invest considerable time and effort into building trust and rapport with children and families through culturally and situationally sensitive in-person interactions, frequent check-ins, assistance with family basic needs, patient education, and more.
- Improving Access to Services for Identified Areas of Concern. When development concerns are identified in children three (3) years of age and under, the Wheeler Early Childhood Team refers that child and family to focused early intervention services through the Connecticut IDEA Part C Birth to Three System for more intensive evaluation and targeted care. When development concerns are identified in children ages 3+ to 5, the Wheeler Early Childhood Team makes referrals for a preschool special evaluation team within the child family’s residential city school district.
“The COVID-19 crisis has had extensive and long-term impact on child development for many, especially children from medically underserved communities,” said Sabrina Trocchi, PhD, MPA, president and chief executive officer, Wheeler. “This expansion of services for our youngest and most vulnerable population provides an opportunity to more quickly assess needs and engage comprehensive supports for all members of the family.”
Details about the program are available through Wheeler’s Navigation Center at 860.793.3500 or toll-free at 888.793.3500.
Wheeler Family Health & Wellness Centers
Wheeler’s Family Health & Wellness Centers in Bristol, Hartford, New Britain, Plainville, and Waterbury are community health centers that provide medical and dental care for the whole family, as well as behavioral health care and referral and linkages to specialty services.
Wheeler’s Health & Wellness Centers in Hartford, Bristol, and New Britain are funded in part by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an operating division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Wheeler is a Health Center Program grantee under 42 U.S.C. 254b and a deemed Public Health Service employee under 42 U.S.C. 233(g)-(n).
Medicaid, Medicare, and commercial health insurance welcome. No patient will be denied health care services due to an individual’s inability to pay for services.
Wheeler provides comprehensive solutions that address complex health issues, providing individuals, families, and communities with accessible, innovative care that encourages recovery, health, and growth at all stages of life. Our integrated approach to primary and behavioral health, education, and recovery creates measurable results, positive outcomes, and hopeful tomorrows for more than 50,000 individuals across Connecticut each year. Visit WheelerHealth.org.