Julianne Edwards, MD
Pediatric Resident, PGY-3
Seattle Children’s Hospital
The Seattle Children’s Hospital/University of Washington pediatric residency program has a Resident Education and Advocacy for Child Health (REACH) Pathway, where residents have dedicated time to explore pediatric health in a community context. As third year residents in this pathway we spend time living and working in Toppenish, WA – a community where our program has built strong partnerships with providers and community organizations over the last decade.
The current REACH-Toppenish cohort of residents received a Community Access to Child Health (CATCH) grant from the AAP to create spaces for parents of children 0 to 5 years in the Toppenish community to connect with one another to promote parental well-being. During my second year of residency, I worked with the Community Benefit Office at Seattle Children’s Hospital to conduct a community health assessment of Lower Yakima Valley and heard from various community members and parents. I learned that during the COVID pandemic, parents in the Toppenish area faced new stressors while simultaneously feeling more isolated. As pediatricians, we know that parental well-being directly shapes a child’s health. Our cohort was inspired to promote parental well-being through parent-led support groups, inspired by a model at the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (OBCC) in Seattle.
As the first resident from my cohort to travel to Toppenish, I sought input from community members on the format and content of the parent groups. I met with medical providers, community health workers, and preschool teachers, all of whom work with parents of young children in the area. The main takeaway was that regardless of the content in the groups, having a space for parents to informally connect with one another is critical. I heard from other community group leaders that parents want to know how to best support their children’s development, and that a previous community group had led a session on self-care for parents which had been well received. Community partners also commented that hosting sessions virtually has been successful in the community and overcomes barriers for families, such as transportation and childcare. Overall community members were excited about having these groups available for the parents they serve. The next step will involve seeking input from families through listening sessions and surveys. We then plan to pilot the sessions with Parents as Teachers, a national program offered to parents in the Toppenish area through Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic.
Stay tuned for the next article in this series – we plan to continue writing updates on our CATCH grant project as each resident in our cohort rotates through Toppenish! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email Reach.Toppenish@gmail.com.
Photo of the REACH-Toppenish residents from left to right: Georgia Griffin, MD; Madeline Wozniak, MD; Julianne Edwards, MD; Gabriel Mendoza, MD; Tania Haag, MD