Multiplying Connections

About Us/Our History

It felt like a partnership. They really listened to what we felt we needed and brought their expertise.
Kevin Burns
Executive Director, Action Wellness
The name Multiplying Connections refers to multiplying the neural connections in the brain, connecting the science of trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences to practice, connecting human service systems in a shared vision for trauma informed practice, and connecting communities in a process of shared learning and collective action. 
Multiplying Connections is an initiative of The Health Federation of Philadelphia, which serves as a keystone supporting a network of Community Health Centers as well as the broader base of public and private-sector organizations that deliver health and human services to vulnerable populations. We promote community health by improving access to and quality of healthcare; by identifying, testing and implementing solutions to health disparities; and by providing training and technical assistance to help other organizations operate more efficiently and effectively.
Through Multiplying Connections, the Health Federation of Philadelphia (HFP) gained the expertise to become a thought leader, convener and trainer across multiple public and private service sectors to promote understanding of the science of childhood adversity and resilience and its translation into trauma informed policy and practice.

The work of our Multiplying Connections training institute grew out of a cross-collaborative coalition of 18 organizations that met together monthly to learn together from national and local experts about the nuances of early childhood development, trauma and best practices in the field.

Together, this coalition built training content, including the foundational trauma-informed curriculum that we still use today. The individuals in this coalition have not only helped HFP shape its trauma-informed philosophy but many other organizations and departments in the area.

Some of the first early adopters in Philadelphia grew out of the work of the Multiplying Connections Initiative and included:

  • The Department of Human Services (DHS) added required reading material about trauma, including Sandra Bloom’s book Creating Sanctuary, to the curriculum for new employees.
  • The School District of Philadelphia provided training on trauma-informed care by Bruce Perry, MD, to 200 kindergarten teachers.
  • HFP routinely incorporated Sandra Bloom’s Community Meeting format into their staff meetings and has a published workplace policy supporting trauma-informed practice. This approach helped to create and model organizational safety and reduce stress among participating staff.

Adult health and well-being and interactions with others are deeply impacted by early childhood development. Science has demonstrated that early connections for children, for example, positive relationships with the adults in their lives, 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. As adults, we can apply the understanding of this science both to the children who we impact, as well as to the adults in the systems, workplaces, and communities with whom we interact.


How We Multiply Connections

There are a variety of “connections” that 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:

  • Strengthens the connections between what is known from research and what is done in practice;
  • Enhances the connections between training, practice standards, and program policies; and
  • Increases the connections among child-serving systems and between systems and families.

Our Approach

Multiplying Connections works with and through the people in public, private and government institutions that serve children and families. Through our cross-disciplinary 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.

Our People and Partners

Multiplying Connections has committed and expert program staff and is proud to be supported by both local and national advocates, experts and organizations who generously provide policy direction, program guidance, and financial resources.  Click here for a staff list and contact information.