OHIO STATE LEND LEADERSHIP PROJECT AIMS TO BUILD RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN NEW MOTHERS AND HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS

01/16/2020


Ohio State LEND faculty Lori Grisez (Physical Therapy) and Dr. Andrea Witwer (Psychology) initiated a program called Next Steps that aims to promote healthy development in infants and young children living in poverty in Central Ohio. The Next Steps program is an extension of the Moms2B program that was created in 2010 by pediatrician Dr. Patricia Gabbe and infant mental health specialist Twinkle French Schottke to address the alarmingly high infant mortality rate in Central Ohio. While Moms2B focuses on expecting mothers, and follows them through their child's first birthday, Next Steps picks up where Moms2B leaves off, offering programming for parents with children ages 1-3 years old. LEND trainees from The Ohio State University plan and implement the programming for Next Steps.

The program aims at educating parents about healthy development, including topics on motor skills, speech and language, and nutrition, as well as promoting appropriate interaction with their child. The program sessions include arts and crafts, a "sister circle" time for sharing, a Kindermusik session to engage with the children through song and dance, and concludes with a healthy snack and a tour of the children's section of the library. The goal of Next Steps is to promote healthy development in children living in poverty and increase participation in Early Intervention for those children who need it. There are higher rates of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities in areas of poverty, and many of these children do not receive early intervention services, even though they are free of cost in the state of Ohio. Next Steps aims to increase utilization of Early Intervention services for these children through parent education and increased acceptance of healthcare and early childhood professionals. Starting in October 2019, Next Steps meets for weekly 1.5 hour sessions at the Martin Luther King Library in Columbus, OH, and is working to acquire funding for free transportation for families to attend the program in the near future.