Our Work

Build Understanding

With A New Understanding, We Can Create Change

The importance and urgency of promoting Early Relational Health for every family and community requires that we expand our understanding of ERH to inform the development and refinement of effective, equitable, and promising relational health practices and strategies.

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ERH Learning Community

The Early Relational Health Learning Community brings together researchers, clinicians, and parents to develop and implement a research agenda for ERH. This group will establish tools and approaches for the observation and promotion of ERH activities, document the impact of these practices on child and family health and development, and promote them throughout pediatric, community health, and early childhood systems.

The ERH Learning Community is working to embed and scale best practices in clinical settings, positively impact national pediatric strategies and public policies, and contribute to improvements in child and family health.

A recent meta-analysis of 93 studies demonstrated improvements in ERH, offering glimmers of hope and highlighting the need for a comprehensive ERH research agenda.

The goals of the ERH Learning Community are to:

  • Collaboratively define and implement an effective research strategy to discover the most promising ERH efforts welcomed by families and practitioners.
  • Document the effectiveness of ERH-promoting tools and resources.
  • Disseminate findings on the most promising ERH practices to drive widespread adoption of ERH practices in pediatric clinics and other child-serving systems to advance health equity.
  • Partner with parents, advocates, and others to translate research findings into recommendations and strategies to impact policy and system change.

In a central strategy to achieve these goals, the ERH Learning Community will bring together Columbia University’s Department of Pediatrics’ COMBO data platform and the Reach Out and Read national network of pediatric and family practices to carry out a groundbreaking iterative agenda combining data-driven and practice-based research that incorporates parent partnership at its core.

  • Tyson Barker, PhD, Chief Science and Innovation Officer, Institute for Child Success
  • Debra Best, MD, FAAP, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Duke Children’s Primary Care
  • Brenda Blasingame, MA, vavCollab; Equity Consultant
  • Jessica Bushar, MPH, Director of Research and Evaluation, HealthySteps
  • Dominique Charlot-Swilley, PhD, Assistant Professor, Senior Research Policy at the Center for Child & Human Development, Department of Pediatrics at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, and the Director of Provider Wellbeing for Early Childhood Innovation Network (ECIN)
  • Dani Dumitriu, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics (in Psychiatry); Attending Physician, Well Baby Nursery; Director, Nurture Science Program, Departments of Pediatrics and Psychiatry, Columbia University 
  • Ellie Erickson, MD, FAAP, Duke Department of Pediatrics
  • Bryn Fortune, Coordinator, ERH Family Network Collaborative
  • Cynthia Frosch, PhD, IMH-E®, Associate Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Auburn University
  • Manny Jimenez, MD, MS, FAAP, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics & Family Medicine and Community Health, Director of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics Education, Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
  • Nancy Peeler, Michigan DHHS
  • Usha Ramachandran, MD, FAAP, Associate Professor of Pediatrics; Associate Director, South Asian Total Health Initiative, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; Medical Director, Reach Out and Read New Jersey; Early Childhood Champion, NJ Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Jessica Riggs, PhD, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan
  • Lee Sanders, MD, MPH, Professor of Pediatrics (General Pediatrics), of Health Policy and, by courtesy, of Epidemiology and Population of Health, Stanford University
  • Nikki Shearman, PhD, Chief of Strategic Initiatives, Reach Out and Read
  • David Willis, MD, FAAP, Senior Fellow, Center for the Study of Social Policy
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An Evaluation Strategy Focused on Connections and Relationships

By Nikki Shearman, PhD (Reach Out and Read) and Dani Dumitriu, MD, PhD (Columbia University Irving Medical Center)

Focusing on the field of implementation (“real-world”) research to build an evidence base for best practices for the promotion of ERH, the ERH Learning Community comprised of parent leaders, pediatric care clinicians, researchers, and early childhood development experts is bringing new understanding into the practice of ERH through the Nurture Connection movement.

Read blog post >

Transforming Systems to Create Healthier, Resilient, and More Connected Communities

Join the Nurture Connection Movement

Community by community, we are building a networked and engaged movement in partnership with parents and families.

Through our collective imagination and effort, we can make sure that every child is cared for and valued, every family is supported and heard, and every community is made stronger through positive and enduring emotional connection.