Research Programs : Demonstration Projects

Healthy Steps

The Mailman Center seeks to replicate the Healthy Steps Initiative by placing a developmental specialist (DS) in three local primary care pediatric practice sites. The DS is a bachelor level graduate in nursing, psychology or social work who receives special training in child development. The DS will work as part of the health care team to screen children for developmental difficulties, to answer parents’ questions about child development, identify family health risks and take advantage of “teachable moments.” More specifically, the DS focuses on first time parents by performing developmental screening for their child, referring to community services, and organizing parent support groups in the doctor’s office.

The University of Miami Healthy Steps program will rely on the national Healthy Steps program office for training and logistical support which will include local training and supervision by Mailman Center faculty, including weekly meetings with a licensed pediatric psychologist, who also serves as a full-time faculty member at the Mailman Center. The program will be directed by a full-time faculty member of the UM Department of Pediatrics who is board-certified in developmental-behavioral pediatrics and has 30 years experience as a general pediatrician in Miami-Dade County. The developmental-behavioral pediatrician will be responsible for overall leadership of the program as well as recruiting future pediatric practice sites in subsequent years. He will also be responsible for ensuring that the program is well integrated into existing community programs that are critical to high-risk families, such as Health Connect, Healthy Start, and Healthy Families.

It is expected that implementation of the Healthy Steps program will lead to numerous outcomes endorsed by the Children’s Trust as intermediate health outcomes for the children of Miami-Dade County: (1) improved access and use of quality health services for children in our community. This includes developmental screenings, up-to-date vaccines; continuity of care in one pediatric practice and fewer emergency room visits; (2) increased education and awareness. Parents who receive Healthy Steps services are more likely to receive information and referrals to community resources, read to their children, and understand development and behavior; and (3) improved community, environmental and lifestyle healthy behaviors. The children included in this program will likely experience fewer behavior problems and demonstrate greater security of attachment. Parents are likely to ensure that infants sleep on their back, adhere to nutritional practices and developmental stimulation and use more positive disciplinary techniques.