Integrated care recognizes that we cannot isolate children’s needs — children have behavioral, physical and social needs that must be addressed together.
When we don’t separate these things, and when we thoughtfully use existing systems of care to help children and families, care is streamlined and cost-effective.
And then there is the connection between trauma and integrated care. The prevalence of trauma makes the need for integrated care more urgent than ever. Nearly one-third of all children in the United States have been exposed to trauma; some children have significant trauma exposure. Science tells us that trauma exposure impacts brain development, behavior patterns, and physical health. Significant trauma exposure is conclusively linked to an increased likelihood of learning problems and behavioral issues. It’s also linked to an increased likelihood of developing heart disease. Even cancer. Can we do something about it? Absolutely. We can integrate care.
What does integrated care look like? Some key components include:
- Shifting to prevention and early intervention. Screen for trauma exposure. Get to the issues as soon as possible.
- Involving the entire family. We cannot truly help a child if his family environment doesn’t promote his wellness. For more on this, click here.
- Coordinating care. We can avoid costly duplication of services to children and families AND deliver better care when it is thoughtful and well planned. We can get pediatricians working with social workers; teachers working with behavioral health clinicians; parents working with nurses. We can form this web of support for a family and connect the family to existing community services so that the family can get what it needs for health and wellness.
When those involved in the care of children and families are synchronized and working at the earliest possible moments to address trauma and promote wellness, the impact is far beyond the child and family.
- VIDEO: Theory of Change from From Harvard Center On The Developing
- White Paper: Change Framework, Clifford Beers Clinic, July 2012
- Report: The Foundations of Lifelong Health (co-authored by the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child and the National Forum on Early Childhood Policy and Programs)