All children, regardless of their background, benefit from positive relationships with the adults in their lives. Science has demonstrated that these connections are critical to creating the brain architecture that makes healthy social, emotional, and intellectual development possible. Unfortunately, for too many children, and particularly for many who we see in our public systems, poverty, violence, and other environmental stresses impede these important connections.
In 2004, a group of Philadelphia-based leaders in health and child welfare began to learn about these scientific advances and wanted to find ways to apply them in our area. They started to meet regularly and formed a Steering Committee, discussing ways they might collaborate to craft new strategies and solutions that support all children’s ability to learn and thrive. Funded by a grant from the William Penn Foundation, this group launched Multiplying Connections in the spring of 2007.
There are a variety of “connections” the initiative addresses. Most broadly, Multiplying Connections seeks to create more and higher quality connections between young children and caring adults. These caring relationships in turn build the strong neural connections necessary for early brain development.
Strategically, our work is focused on enhancing the efforts of the public system professionals entrusted with nurturing, protecting, and supporting children. In particular, Multiplying Connections collaborates closely with Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health, Division of Maternal, Child and Family Health; Department of Behavioral Health, Children’s Services; Department of Human Services; and the School District of Philadelphia’s Early Childhood Division. To this end, Multiplying Connections:
Multiplying Connections works with and through the people in public organizations that regularly serve children and families. Through our Cross Systems Training Institute, we train professionals in trauma-informed techniques that build resilience and reduce harm. We collaborate with administrators and managers to change practices and policies in organizations and systems. These include the development of performance standards, quality indicators, and evaluation measures to monitor and guide how we deliver services to children. Finally, we build partnerships among these organizations and systems to ensure that all children have opportunities for optimal development and enter school ready to learn.
The Health Federation of Philadelphia is home to the Multiplying Connections program staff. Click here for a staff list and contact information.
Multiplying Connections is proud to be supported by a growing team of experts and organizations who generously provide policy direction, program guidance, and financial resources. Click here for a list of our partners. This includes the Multiplying Connections Steering Committee, which monitors and guides our work and sets our policy agenda, and the Multiplying Connections Advisory Board, which was established by the Steering Committee, includes local advocates and experts, and provides substantive professional input into the project.