Collaboration focuses on first 1,000 days of life

Partners from Walla Walla, including Children’s Home Society of Washington, Children’s Resiliency Initiative, Walla Walla County Department of Community Health, Providence St. Mary’s, Walla Walla Clinic and community representatives from across Washington gathered in the Washington state Capitol Legislative building on June 21 for The Frontiers of Innovation: First 1,000 Days Kick-Off.

Dr. Jack Shonkoff of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University spoke to the group about the importance of promoting children’s healthy development by supporting the adults who care for them. The science is clear: what happens in a child’s first 1,000 days has a profound influence for the rest of their life in health, behavior and achievement.

CHSW in Walla Walla was one of 18 community partnerships from across the state that applied to be part of this project. The Walla Walla community has been the focus of national attention for innovative work related to addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES), the positive and negative experiences that can have an impact on lifelong health, and now the community is coming together with state policy makers to seek new science-based solutions to improve outcomes for young children.

CHSW has partnered with the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University to drive science-based innovation for the last five years, and we think many of the lessons learned through that work can help to inform this new initiative.

We will work with our partners to identify both opportunities and barriers in the current systems and policies that affect Walla Walla’s youngest children, and then co-create new and innovative solutions to help kids get off to a great start in life. We are excited and hopeful that this collaboration will help us connect systems to improve child and family well-being.

We see this as an exciting opportunity to collaborate with our local partners and the five participating state agencies to take a new approach to strengthen our community by focusing on building strong foundations for lifelong well-being and productivity. Ultimately, we all benefit when kids succeed.

Jason Gortney serves as the director of the Office of Innovation at Children’s Home Society of Washington. Meagan Anderson-Pira serves as the director for services in Walla Walla County.