public health, family well-being, maternal and child health, community health, social work, parent education, parent support
The Early Childhood Support Specialist (ECSS) at MaineHealth builds relationships with families who have children aged birth to three, a timeframe when infants and toddlers are rapidly developing, learning, and benefiting from family and community connections. The ECSS assesses a family’s strengths and needs to understand how that family can be supported and connected. The ECSS connects families to resources, provides referrals, coaches families on children’s social and emotional development, and generally serves as a point of contact to assist families with social, emotional, and medical needs. Ultimately, the intended outcome of this model is to increase family connections, decrease family stress, and support parents to be the best parents they can be for their children so that in this rapid phase of development, children can flourish and be set on a pathway for good health. This report highlights the impact of the ECSS role, the potential it has as well as the intense needs that so many families in Maine are experiencing. Many families in Maine are challenged on a daily basis to access and maintain access to basic needs such as housing, food, and even diapers. For families who may not face as many daily challenges, the ECSS offers a friendly and supportive presence and a warm connection to the pediatric clinic. No matter the intensity of needs, the ECSS model sets families up to be more resilient and prepared for whatever they may face while raising young children. While there are many similarities in the challenges that families face across clinics, it is important to note that the ECSS model is being implemented in two very different geographic locations within Maine – each serving different peoples and cultures, and with different accesses to services and supports. As with all evaluations, there is always more data that could be collected and more stories that could be told. Our hope is that this evaluation report gives all stakeholders a better understanding of the ECSS role, including the successes and challenges, and leads to fruitful conversations as to how the model can be supported, improved, and expanded.
MaineHealth (John T Gorman Foundation)
Swenson, Emilie MSW and Gallo, Rachel MPH, "Early Childhood Support Specialist Evaluation Report" (2023). Children, Youth, & Families. 45.