Cultivating Effective Practices focuses on identifying, integrating, and scaling effective programs and practices across early care and education, school, and community settings, so that more children have the services and supports they need to thrive and more families are engaged as partners in promoting whole child health.

Partnering with Schools and Out of School Time (OST) Providers

Rochester City School District was recently awarded a grant to support planning, training, and implementation of practices for whole child health in eight elementary schools. Schools have formed diverse whole child health leadership teams consisting of teachers and support staff, parents, principals, school counselors, and social workers, among others, that will guide the work. Efforts will be supported by other partners including the Training Resource and Coaching Center (TRACC), Healthi Kids advocacy coalition, and ARIA Strategies consulting, and will build on work promoting healthy eating and physical activity as part of the Health Foundation’s previous Childhood Healthy Weight initiative. Together with TRACC, RCSD is expanding its partnership with Playworks, which provides schools with training and capacity building for safe, inclusive, and physically active play.

Greece, Penfield, and Wheatland-Chili School Districts have received support from the Greater Rochester Health Foundation to engage in district-wide needs assessment and planning for social-emotional learning (SEL) or whole child health implementation, in partnership with the Children’s Institute, and have continued to build on this work:

  • Greece Central School District was awarded a grant to sustain and expand the Leader in Me program, an evidence-based universal SEL program that empowers students with leadership and life skills, in several elementary schools.
  • Penfield Central School District was awarded a grant to support coordination of a district-wide whole child health leadership team as well as expansion of Second Steps, an evidence-based SEL program, to additional elementary grades.
  • Wheatland-Child Central Schools was awarded a grant to implement a staff training and small group coaching model for improving the social, emotional, and behavioral health of elementary students, complementing the Second Steps SEL program and a revised Code of Conduct.

The YMCA of Greater Rochester was awarded a grant to expand its nationally-recognized after-school program to eight RCSD partner elementary schools in the 2018-2019 school year, and the Monroe Community College Foundation was awarded a grant to provide free summer camp to around 600 children in each of the next three years. These programs are based on a whole child approach, providing physical activity, health education, and academic support, as well as activities that foster social-emotional learning.


Partnering with Parents and Families

Parents play a crucial role in children’s development, and authentic partnerships between organizations and parents are essential for supporting whole child health. In 2018, the Health Foundation released an RFP for projects that partner with parents and families to promote whole child health. We then collaborated with the National Parent Leadership Institute and the Greater Rochester Parent Leadership Training Institute to develop an equitable process for including local parent leaders as grant application reviewers. Click here for more information on our ongoing parent partnership work, including a grantee learning collaborative to further build and uplift best practices for parent partnership.

Villa of Hope was awarded a grant to expand their Family Support Services for families facing adversity, including interactive workshops on whole child health practices such as healthy eating, managing emotional and behavioral difficulties, and parent self-care and advocacy skills. The project also includes in-home coaching and crisis assistance services provided by a Family Peer Advocate.

The University of Rochester Department of Pediatric Behavioral Health & Wellness (PBH&W) was awarded a grant to provide a culturally-informed, multifamily group education and support intervention for families who have children with behavioral challenges. Through a partnership with the Mental Health Association of Rochester (MHA), groups will be offered in both settings and co-facilitated by trained family advocates.

Open Door Mission was awarded a grant to provide transitional housing and comprehensive case management to families facing homelessness, working on collaborative goals for housing, employment, family functioning, and healthy habits. Partnerships with other organizations will support trauma-informed care, culturally responsive services, and resilience building activities.

Hillside Children’s Foundation was awarded a grant to expand the Group Connections component of its Parents as Teachers home visiting program. A group-based parenting education and skill-building program will provide further supports to help families meet parenting goals and promote children’s healthy development.

Children’s Institute is receiving support from the Health Foundation along with the ESL Foundation and Farash Foundation to continue offering the Rochester Area Parent Program (RAPP), which uses the evidence-based Chicago Parent Program to help parents meet goals for positive parenting and reduce children’s challenging behavior in culturally appropriate ways. Groups are co-led by trained staff and parent leaders.

Common parent partnership elements and practices reflected in these projects include, among others:

  • Incorporating parent input and feedback into program design
  • Engaging parents as compensated group leaders or facilitators
  • Inviting parents to join advisory boards or councils
  • Providing child care, bus passes, food, and varied schedules to reduce participation barriers
  • Attending to parent/family strengths and goals

Partnering with Early Care and Education (ECE)

The Health Foundation engaged Coordinated Care Services Inc. to perform a scan of services, practices, and needs related to whole child health in Early Care and Education programs and facilities serving children 0-8 in Monroe County, including Early Prekindergarten (EPK), Universal Prekindergarten (UPK), Head Start, center-based programs, and family daycares. The scan included focus groups and interviews with parents, providers, and other experts, and identified several key issues facing the ECE system including gaps in funding, staff training, and supports for children with additional developmental needs, as well as regulatory and workforce challenges. The complete report and executive summary are available here. A similar scan is being planned in 2019 for the eight additional counties served by the Health Foundation (Genesee, Livingston, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates counties).