Connecting Trainees on a State Level: California Maternal and Child Health Leadership Training Network

April 106, 2021

It is established that the health gradient created by the social determinants in the US is steeper than in any other developed nation. Our current patchwork systems of care for children and families have been thrown in sharp relief by COVID-19 pandemic with many families on the edge of falling through the cracks. The percentages of U.S. households with children living below the poverty line have significantly increased over the last year. Additionally, with school closures and limited access to free or reduced cost school lunches, children's food insecurity has grown to the highest level it has been in decades. California is not exempt from these developments. Though there are various maternal and child health programs throughout the state, currently there is a disconnect between training programs. There is an opportunity and a need for a network in California to mobilize trainees to work collectively and leverage their combined capacities to influence lasting change.

The California Maternal and Child Health Leadership Training Network (CAMCHLTN) was created to address those gaps. It's vision: "...a California where leaders in the health field are equipped with the knowledge, skills, tools and relationships to reduce the social gradient in health by developing, advocating for, implementing and continuously evaluating transformational policies, systems and programs that address the early life environments of children and families." is more crucial now than ever before.  

The CAMCHLTN network seeks to train future leaders to power meaningful change to improve the lives and livelihoods of families and children across California. Founded in 2017, the CAMCHLTN provides a platform where an interdisciplinary team of disciplines can transcend geographical restrictions to assemble and develop a portfolio of fundable collaborative projects. A consistent champion for the CAMCHLTN has been Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician, Douglas Vanderbilt, who directs both the MCHB funded CA-LEND and CHLA DBP training programs. He states, "The CAMCHLTN has been a great opportunity to connect MCH trainees across California to focus on network building with the goal of strengthening the systems of care for families in our state."

Currently numbering 16 MCHB funded training programs, CAMCHLTN's website (www.camchltn.org) highlights the coalition's network events, introduces the training programs in the network, and features liaison biographies. Three generations of hard work from previous trainee liaisons have led to today's leadership and training efforts. One of the current trainee liaisons shared: "I'm excited as to how the coalition provides health professionals from different educational backgrounds the opportunity to engage with each other across the state! We were given the space to discuss, learn, and identify public health challenges and potential resources for California families and communities, which was an extraordinary and unique experience."

This year CA-LEND trainees, Sofia Martinez from social work and Enya Meng from nutrition have continued the coalition building. The coalition commenced an educational series where CAMCHLTN's community partners were invited as guest speakers for academic and networking purposes during monthly trainee liaison meetings. Speakers included Jana Wright: the Director of LA Best Babies Network, Fran Goldfarb: Family Support Discipline Director for CA-LEND, and other esteemed members from the community. The network's focal event this year will be a virtual conference hosted on May 14th. This two-hour conference will be headlining Daniel P. Miller who will be presenting on food insecurities and the impact of maternal and child health. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend for the opportunity to learn and network. The link for the event can be found here: (http://bit.ly/camchltnmeeting).