Ohio's LEND Collaboration to Support Children Impacted by the Opioid Crisis

In Ohio, the two LEND programs collaborated in the 2017-2018 training year on a joint project to develop a training module for early childhood care providers to better understand the impact of the opiate crisis on young children. Faculty members and interdisciplinary trainees from The Ohio State University Nisonger Center's LEND and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center's LEND worked together to identify current research and best practices on Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). Additionally, the teams explored interactive technologies to create a two-hour asynchronous learning module divided into the following topics: 1) current status of the opioid crisis in Ohio, 2) NAS symptoms, 3) trauma-informed practices, 4) strategies for working with children birth to age three, 5) strategies for preschoolers, and 6) developmental monitoring and next steps when concerns arise with development. The "Learn the Signs. Act Early." materials were described in depth in the last section with a focus on how to use the app and the benefits of the Watch Me! Celebrating Milestones and Sharing Concerns training.

This work brought together faculty and trainees from psychology, developmental and behavioral pediatrics, occupational therapy, graduate nursing, and genetics. Trainees gained valuable knowledge and skills across the MCH Leadership Competencies. Specifically, they worked well together to delegate tasks, maintain open communication, and address a real-life public health issue starting with obtaining current literature. Trainees worked diligently to elicit practical information from experts such as physical therapists, family navigators, neonatologists, and, of course, early childhood care providers with experience working with families impacted by opiate use disorders. Nisonger trainees also obtained video recorded interviews with these professionals to be used within the online module. Cincinnati trainees adapted the content to be presented using Adobe Captivate with interactive questions and a case study. The training is available for continuing education credit through Ohio's Childcare Resource and Referral Agency. In just over a month, there have been over 1,400 registered participants for the training module which speaks to the urgent need of these professionals to gain more knowledge and skills to support Ohio's vulnerable children. Given the vast reach of this training, more early childhood professionals have also been exposed to the "Learn the Signs. Act Early." materials and specific resources in Ohio to support young children's development.

This work was time intensive, but well worth the time and resources devoted to the project. The trainees worked well under supervision from the LEND Training Directors and verbalized strong commitment to the MCH field as well as the population of young children impacted by opioid use disorders. Additionally, they honed skills in the areas of communication and working within community and system limitations. Pre and post-test questionnaires were also developed and the work has IRB approval from both sites; therefore, data will continue to be collected and ultimately shared with Ohio legislators to highlight the importance of supporting systems and professionals who work with children of parents experiencing opioid use disorders.