Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Partners HealthCare are supporting young families

4/17/2014, 9:09 a.m.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Partners HealthCare understand that a lifetime of health begins at birth, which is why Brigham ...
Pictured here are Young Parent Ambassadors celebrating after last year’s successful Summit for Teen Empowerment, Progress, and Parenting Success.

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Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Partners HealthCare understand that a lifetime of health begins at birth, which is why Brigham and Women’s Hospital has developed the Stronger Generations Initiative.

Stronger Generations aims to lay a foundation for a lifetime of health through a focus on the social, medical, and economic needs of women and their families before, during and after their pregnancies.

“Brigham and Women’s has a rich history of providing care to expectant mothers, new mothers, and infants. This care extends beyond the walls of our hospital into Boston communities where infant mortality and poor birth outcomes remain prevalent issues. Through our Center for

Community Health and Health Equity we are committed to reducing disparities in birth outcomes and promoting health equity through innovative programs and services,” said Wanda McClain, vice president of Community Health and Health Equity, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

The first phase of the Stronger Generations focuses on addressing the health and psychosocial needs of expectant and parenting young adults. Each year, more than 500 teenagers in Boston become parents. Beyond the stress of caring for a baby, teen parents have a higher risk of poverty, poor educational achievement, community violence, social isolation and poor health outcomes. These risk factors are not limited to the parent; the children of teen parents can experience a number of risk factors that may impact their health across their lifespan.

Stronger Generations addresses the diverse needs of the pregnant and parenting young adults through programs that provide social support and reduce the stress and isolation. Using Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites, the Stronger Generations team provides resources, information and an online meeting place for expectant and new parents to connect with one another.

While there are significant challenges with young parenthood, it is also a time of opportunity. It can be a time in a young person’s life when they choose to make healthier choices and invest in their personal and professional goals. Stronger Generations gives young parents tools to leverage their strengths and achieve success.

Through the case management in the program, pregnant women work with case managers at five BWH licensed and affiliated community health centers. Case managers connect patients to necessary social and medical supports and community resources. Some of these resources include yoga, WIC, and infant safety programs like the BWH Car Seat program, which provides affordable car seats to families. Coordinating care between the hospital and the health centers allows patients and families to have quality medical care and resources that strengthen their health and the health of their babies.

The newest component of Stronger Generations is the Young Parent Ambassador program, which provides young parents with opportunities for education and training related to advocacy, leadership, and public health with a focus on healthy births and eliminating health disparities. Through the ambassador program, young parents not only support the Stronger Generations staff in their program development efforts, but also participate in a personal development program that focuses on the educational and professional goal setting, self-sufficiency, peer-to-peer learning and social support.