Together Growing Strong
The goal of Together Growing Strong is to build a community-partnered model to enhance the health, wellbeing, and development of young children and their families in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, from the prenatal period through age 5—a pivotal time in early childhood development. The Together Growing Strong initiative was established in July 2017 as a philanthropic partnership between the Bezos Family Foundation and NYU Langone.
Working in synergy with NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn and the Family Health Centers at NYU Langone, we use equity-centered strategies to engage in individual-level and systems-level approaches to ensure that children and families are physically, cognitively, and emotionally ready for kindergarten, our benchmark outcome.
To do this, we center not just children and families, but also healthcare providers and educators, who interact with children and families frequently. The individual-level programs shown below are directed at these three groups. These programs are implemented in the context of the Sunset Park community and are adapted to local racial and ethnic groups, as well as specific settings. However, we also recognize the importance of addressing inequities in systems for families and children to thrive.
The Together Growing Strong initiative is deeply committed to racial and ethnic equity, and to disrupt racism and inequity, we are guided by five principles:
- centering racial equity
- engaging with community
- continuous learning and improving
- demonstrating what’s possible
- influencing policy and practice
We believe that communities know their strengths, challenges, and the types of support that would be meaningful to them. As a result, our model highly values collecting data from community, including individual community members, healthcare providers and staff, early childhood educators (including family friend and neighbor, or FFN, providers), elementary school educators, and social service providers. Data collection is implemented with a mixed methods approach, which enables a deeper understanding of community perspective and is essential given that most validated scales have not been developed or validated with communities of color or in immigrant communities. Some of our previous formative research has focused on the following studies:
- mental health of pregnant and parenting women
- elementary school faculty’s experience during the COVID-19 pandemic
- caregivers’ knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors around early childhood development
- healthcare providers’ beliefs and attitudes around including early childhood development in pediatric practice
- caregivers’ interests in early childhood educational materials
- caregivers’ perspective of their children’s school readiness
To learn more about our formative research, contact Natalia Rojas at Natalia.Rojas@NYULangone.org.
Findings from such studies are shared back with the community to start what will hopefully be an ongoing conversation, assess whether we “got it right,” hear different perspectives of the interpretation of the data, and jointly plan for the next phases of initiative development or modification based on the data. This feedback cycle then directly informs our strategies: program integration and adaptation, systems-level approaches, and policy advocacy.