Category - Kids Health

1
Milestones Matter
2
It’s Creepy Crawlies Time
3
Let’s Go Fishing: A Day Spent Learning to Teach
4
How Childhood Trauma Affects Lifelong Health
5
The Developing Brain
6
What Is a Safe Sleep Environment for Your Baby?
7
Back to School Checklist
8
The Difference DULCE Makes
9
Help Me Grow
10
Questions About Vaccines? Please Ask!

Milestones Matter

By: Wendy S. Hubbard, RN, MCHC

Children grow so fast and as parents, we want to make sure they are developing well.

Skills such as taking a first step, smiling for the first time, and waving “bye bye” are called developmental milestones. Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, act, and move (crawling, walking, etc.).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed the Milestone Tracker, a free mobile app for children from birth to 5. The app provides information, photos, and videos on each milestone your child should reach in how he or she plays, learns, speaks, acts, and moves. The app helps you track your child’s development and will help you to act early if you have a question or concern.

Click on the age of your child to see the milestones they should meet:

CDC’s Milestone Tracker app offers:

  • Interactive milestone checklists for children ages 2 months through 5 years, illustrated with photos and videos.
  • Tips and activities to help children learn and grow.
  • Information on when to act early and talk with a doctor about developmental delays.
  • A personalized milestone summary that can be easily shared with care providers.
  • Reminders for appointments and developmental screenings.
  • The ability to enter personalized information about your child(ren).
  • Milestone checklists for a child’s age.

Healthcare providers can also use the app to help with developmental surveillance as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and early care and education providers, home visitors, and others can use it to better understand children’s skills and abilities and to engage families in monitoring developmental progress.

To learn more about developmental milestones and access helpful resources, visit https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/index.html.

 

The use of this app is not a substitute for the use of validated, standardized developmental screening tools as recommended by the AAP. This app was developed by the CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” program with contribution from Dr. Rosa Arriaga and students from the Computing for Good program at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA.

CDC does not collect or share any personal information that can be used to identify you or your child.

It’s Creepy Crawlies Time

By: Leah Hollenberger

Creepy crawlies time is back and I don’t mean Halloween! Recently, local school boards and town health officers have had to discuss how to prevent the spread of bed bugs and lice.

The good news is that bed bugs and lice do not spread disease. They are annoying, but not dangerous. They’re also equal opportunists – found all over the world and in a variety of settings, from the chicest hotel to a neighbor’s home near you.

Head Lice

Lice is the easier bug to get rid of. Treatments for head lice are generally safe and effective when used correctly and available over the counter at any pharmacy. Most of these products are pesticides that can be absorbed through the skin, so use with care and only as directed.

As an alternative, some people recommend smothering head lice by covering the hair and scalp with mayonnaise or olive oil and leaving it on for eight hours. This should be followed by a vinegar rinse, which is thought to help weaken the “glue” that attaches lice eggs, called nits, to the hair next to the scalp. The Centers for Disease Control does not have clear scientific evidence that proves that the use of olive oil and/or vinegar is effective in killing lice.

With any treatment, you will need to carefully comb out hair with a fine tooth comb to capture lice and nits. You’ll need to check daily for two weeks or so to make sure the lice are gone. It is not uncommon to have to re-treat 5-10 days after the first treatment.

Head lice can’t live long if they fall off a person and can’t feed, which means you can focus on cleaning items used primarily by the infested person. Machine wash and dry any clothes, sheets, towels, hats, scarves, etc. that the person with head lice wore or used during the 2 days before the lice was discovered. Wash in a washing machine using the hot water (130 degrees) cycle and dry on the high heat seating. Clothing and other non-washable items (such as stuffed animals) can be dry-cleaned or sealed in a plastic bag and stored for 2 weeks. This will suffocate the lice. The CDC recommends vacuuming the floor and furniture, especially areas used by the infested person. You should also soak combs and brushes in hot water for 5-10 minutes.

Lice is spread most often by direct head-to-head contact. To limit spreading, don’t share hats, scarves, brushes or combs. You don’t need to avoid someone with lice.

Bed Bugs

These little buggers are a bit tougher and they travel easily. They are very small and flat, so they can fit into really small spaces – something as thin as the edge of a credit card. They hide during the day, but you can look for signs of them near where people sleep. Although they can travel, they tend to stay within 8 feet of where people sleep. Check seams of mattresses, box springs, luggage, overnight bags, and the folds of bedding and clothes, etc. Bedframes, headboards, dresser tables, and clutter also provide hiding spaces. Anyone who travels frequently and shares living and sleeping areas where other people have slept has a higher risk of spreading or being bitten by bed bugs. Some travelers store their luggage in closets away from their sleeping area to reduce the chance of an infestation once they return home.

Bedbugs also leave signs that they are around. In addition to bug bites, they can leave a musty smell, very small reddish brown or dark brown spots or streaks from their poop, and/or shed skin in their hiding areas.

So what can you do if you have bed bugs? The only sure-fire remedy is to use a professional exterminator with experience in using heat to kill bed bugs. Experts say the infested area needs to be heated to at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit for three hours. This can be expensive, so other options include trying to remove the bugs and keeping them away. That means careful and repeated vacuuming of the seams of mattresses and box springs, along and under carpet edges and baseboards and in other crevices, cracks and around clutter near the sleeping area. Be sure to empty the vacuum bag outside of your home after each session. Washing clothing and bedding on the hot water setting and drying on the high heat setting for at least 10-15 minutes is effective. You should continue to monitor for bed bugs daily, and keep vacuuming regularly.

The Vermont Department of Health’s website has good clear directions on how to deal with a bedbug infestation. Their site also provides a good link to “Lice Lessons” on the National Association of School Nurses website. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has information on both lice and bedbugs.

Anyone can have lice or bed bugs, through no fault of their own. There is nothing to fear as they don’t carry disease; usually, they cause itchiness and sleepless nights. Getting rid of them takes time and effort, so be kind to someone dealing with these creepy crawlies.


Leah Hollenberger is the Vice President of Marketing, Development, and Community Relations for Copley Hospital. A former award-winning TV and Radio producer, she is the mother of two and lives in Morrisville. Her free time is spent volunteering, cooking, playing outdoors, and producing textile arts. Leah writes about community events, preventive care, and assorted ideas to help one make healthy choices.

Let’s Go Fishing: A Day Spent Learning to Teach

By: Chris Hendon

 

Vermont Fish & Wildlife Lets Go Fishing

Looking for ways to expand kids’ summer programming in the Lamoille County Mental Health Services’ (LCMHS) Redwood Program, Dan Gilbert and I attended a recent Let’s Go Fishing clinic offered by Vermont Fish and Wildlife.  We wanted to improve Redwood’s free six-week summer programming and offer kids a chance to get out and do some structured fishing as well as having ongoing access to fishing equipment for these kids’ adventures. Every year a few kids, dreaming about those summer days on a river or lake, ask if fishing can be incorporated into the Redwood summer program. Due to a lack of equipment, every year we have had to say no.

We heard about the Let’s Go Fishing program at Vermont Fish & Wildlife and thought it would be an excellent chance to be able to include any kids who are interested, including—and perhaps especially—the kids who have never touched a fishing pole before. We hope to inspire excitement about getting outside and fishing. This is an activity they can share with friends and family. It creates a life-long skill that encourages patience and mindfulness, as well as an appreciation of our natural world.

As the training day started rolling, we realized this is about much more than simply fishing. It’s about learning about our water ecosystems, about different types of fish in Vermont, and teaching basic skills to build upon such as knot tying and proper casting techniques. Most importantly, it is about getting children and adults outside and engaged in conservation and fishing in a day and age where people are spending less and less time outdoors. The structure of this program teaches skills and knowledge that kids can carry with them for the rest of their lives. Learning about fishing rules and regulations gives insight into breeding habits and the availability of fish in certain bodies of water. The Department of Vermont Fish & Wildlife simply wants people to get out on the water, know what fishing is all about, and most importantly, to have some fun!

The volunteer training itself certified us as Vermont Fish & Wildlife Lets Go Fishing Instructors.  This certification will offer many opportunities to expand our knowledge and training above and beyond the summer programming at Redwood. In addition to a typical “fishing” clinic, Vermont Fish & Wildlife offers ice fishing and fly fishing clinics as long as there is a certified instructor available who is experienced in those areas. They offer dozens of clinics every year, and we can now easily organize clinics for the kids in LCMHS programs. Let’s Go Fishing provides attendees with an educational tote and all the fishing equipment that we will need, as well as ongoing support. I encourage anyone who is interested in expanding their children’s programming to become an instructor. It’s a free, day-long course, and it is well worth it. If you are just interested in learning about fishing or would like to enhance your experience, I recommend taking part in one (or many!) of these clinics. It is all free and enrolling in the clinic gives you the ability to fish even if you don’t have a license.

I can’t recommend this fantastic program enough. If you want to know more you can ask Dan or myself, or reach out directly Corey Hart, a program manager at Vermont Fish and Wildlife, Corey.Hart@vermont.gov.


An avid ice fisherman, Chris is a Redwood Service Coordinator at Lamoille County Mental Health Services and a clinical mental health graduate student at Northern Vermont University. 

How Childhood Trauma Affects Lifelong Health

By: Jessica Bickford

Trauma… it’s the really horrific things that we go through as people… things that deeply impact us. For some, trauma is a single point in time while others experience ongoing trauma and instability.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary includes these concepts when defining the word trauma:

Injury caused by an extrinsic (outside ourselves) agent

Results in severe mental or emotional stress or physical injury

In many cases when we experience trauma as adults we have gained the tools and relationships to carry us through. When we experience trauma as children we do not necessarily have those resources or the brain development that gives us the resilience needed. The more trauma or adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) that a child experiences, the greater the likelihood these experiences will have negative health impacts throughout their lifespan that can include obesity, heart disease, and substance use disorders.

The good news is that there is new science emerging that gives us hope that our negative childhood experiences do not have to be our destiny.  The NEAR* sciences, as they are called, present a picture of hope. Come join Tricia Long** and Daniela Caserta*** at the upcoming “How Childhood Trauma Affects Lifelong Health” Workshops to find out more on how we can come together as a community and build this hope and change our health outcomes!

Join us for one of these evenings:

November 7th, Hazen Auditorium – 6:00-8:00

November 14th, Green Mountain Technology and Career Center – 6:00-8:00

You can pre-register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/how-childhood-trauma-affects-lifelong-health-tickets-38547319069. Pre-registration is not required, so grab a friend or neighbor and come out to one of these informative evenings!  All are welcome!

 

* NEAR Science = Neuroscience, Epigenetics, ACEs, & Resilience

** Tricia Long is a clinical mental health counselor, and Director for Resilience Beyond Incarceration at the Lamoille Restorative Center, a program that supports children and families dealing with parental incarceration.

*** Daniela Caserta has been overseeing a variety of programs at the Lamoille Family Center and is transitioning to be the Director of Programs for the Washington County Family Center.

 


Jessica Bickford has worked as Coordinator of Healthy Lamoille Valley for a little over two years, where she has enjoyed writing for their blog. Writing for Copley’s community blog is a natural extension of this experience! Healthy Lamoille Valley focuses on making healthy choices easy choices, realizing that when we have access to healthy options we are less likely to choose behaviors that are harmful. Prevention is really a lifestyle of wise choices that enable us to live life to the fullest.

The Developing Brain

By: Rebecca Copans

Lucy, 3 years old, heading to her first day of preschool.

As a parent, you want nothing more than for your child to be happy and healthy, to make friends, and to be accepted and integrated with their peers. When one of those pieces doesn’t fall into place as you would hope, you start asking questions.  You talk to your friends and neighbors, you ask for help from your primary care provider, and you call Lamoille County Mental Health Services.

From when she was a toddler, my daughter Lucy struggled with communicating her needs in a socially acceptable way.  As an infant, we taught her baby sign language and she was incredibly proficient in verbal language at an early age. Also from a young age, however, she was paralyzed by social pressures and extreme shyness. When she was three and entered preschool, it didn’t go well. A brand new teacher fresh out of college combined with some energetic kids is a recipe for chaos. Sprinkle in social, emotional and behavioral challenges, and it can be a recipe for disaster.

It all came to a head when we were invited to a birthday party in March, seven months into the program and I saw firsthand what she had been trying to tell me week after week. She would come home and say, “No one played with me today.” Or, “I don’t have any friends at school.”  Impossible, I thought. This is preschool, where they learn to be friends and care about each other equally—right? Wrong. It was like watching a car wreck. I was rooted to the spot, transfixed as parents chatted around me, oblivious to the scene that our children were playing out with each other. There were leaders and followers, cliques and bullying, and passive-aggressive exclusion that was closer to how seventh-grade girls infamously treat each other. This was a 4-year old’s birthday party. I was shocked. I have never felt so acutely that I failed as a parent. I didn’t listen to this tiny little person tell me over and over that she needed help figuring out how to navigate an incredibly stressful situation. It was like a language that everyone else could speak but her.

We asked for advice, I cried a whole lot, and ultimately we changed schools. Within three weeks of being enrolled in her new school, her teachers surged to action. We created a plan and began pulling in an incredible array of wrap-around services.They suggested screenings and behavioral interventions and within months and with some incredible people in her corner, things began slowly to improve, tiny step by tiny step.

From under a porch chair “fort”, 5 year old Lucy weaves a story for her brother Hazen.

Lucy, who suffers from a heady mix of debilitating shyness, ADHD and learning disabilities, was taught to scaffold mental prompts that allow most children seemingly automatically to wait for a turn at the paper towel dispenser (rather than pushing past to avoid having to think of something to say—and then say it—to the child blocking her way), to wait quietly in line to go outside for recess, to ask a teacher for help navigating a problem, or, the Everest: to ask “can I play?” Working with the behavioral interventionist, we created a playbook so that her family and her teachers were all working from the same place and using the same language.

Those early interventions helped to rewire her brain. She was given the tools to ask with her words rather than by hurling her body through space, and was able to integrate gracefully into playing with her peers by having a coach whispering prompts in her ear. As those prompts become ingrained, and with her incredible early educators mimicking the behavior interventionist’s language, the social fabric of her life became more normalized. By the time she entered Kindergarten, that coach standing by her shoulder was no longer needed, and in fact, her problem-solving skills became tools that her Kindergarten peers learned from Lucy.

When Lucy was a toddler, we thought that her actions were simply normal—we had nothing to compare it to. We thought parenting was simply the hardest job on the planet and didn’t realize how much help was available in the community. I didn’t know that our designated mental health agency or our local parent-child center offered resources for someone with Lucy’s developmental challenges, and for us, as parents raising her. I had the misconception that those agencies were reserved only for low-income Vermonters. We had no idea where to turn and grew increasingly panicked.

Studies from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University have shown that in the first years of life, a developing brain forms one million connections every second. By the age of by the age of five, 90% of the brain is developed. If we had waited until Lucy reached Kindergarten before putting behavior interventions in place, the work in bending her trajectory would have become much more difficult.

Lucy is far from alone on her path. A 2015 VT Digger story noted,

“Vermont has the highest rate of identifying students with emotional disturbance in the country. As a percentage of all students who received special education services in the 2012-13 school year in Vermont, about 16 percent were identified with an emotional disturbance, according to federal data. That is more than twice the national average of 6.3 percent.”

Some experts have argued that Vermont is simply doing a better job than other states at early identification and intervention.

During the 2016-2017 School Year, the School-Based Clinician Program at Lamoille County Mental Health supported over 120 children like Lucy from preschool-age to high school seniors. These dedicated individuals provided individual, group, and team support for students in their learning environments. School-Based Clinicians teach and practice mindfulness techniques with children, organize running and fitness groups, support skill development in the areas of self-advocacy, self-regulation, identifying and verbalizing emotional states, peer conflict resolution, verbal and non-verbal communication, and development of reciprocal play skills. They also facilitate training sessions for an increase in trauma-informed approaches in schools. These services are now available in 12 schools with a potential to serve over 200 children in the Lamoille Valley.

The Redwood Program at LCMHS contracts with school districts to offer wrap-around, full-year behavioral interventions for children. The children engaged in the program during the school year then attend a six-week summer camp that has precipitously lowered the crisis rate for kids returning to school in the fall. The Redwood Summer Camp is free for students enrolled in the Redwood Program and prevents a lot of kids from needing more expensive therapies. It maintains structure for the children during the summer and builds and strengthens the relationships between the kids and the incredible cohort of behavioral interventionists.

At 7 years old, Lucy is thriving with school-based supports.

The Access Program at LCMHS offers Community Skills Work (CSW), allowing children to connect with this service when in crisis. At its peak this year, the CSW Program served approximately 60 children at one time. In addition to weekly visits with children, the program also supports activities such as Wellness Camp, Children’s Emotional Wellness Day and the Resource Parent Curriculum Plus (RPC+) Children’s Group—an incredible program that supports placement stability for children in foster care. The CSW Program is connected with several local organizations, offering access to activities such as swimming, ice skating, gyms, game rooms, and State Parks.

During that first year of preschool, I was sure that Lucy would never be able to succeed socially in school.  Now as a second grader, she has wonderful friends, she is successful in dance and gymnastics, she is able to have playdates that don’t reliably devolve into tears, and on any given day a stranger in the grocery store wouldn’t know the challenges she faces—all things that would have seemed impossible four years ago. Without those early interventions, this trajectory would be heading in a very different direction. When parents are at a loss as to how to help their child, they need to know that they aren’t alone and that help can be found right here in Lamoille. Parenting is hard in the best of situations and if you are struggling, some days it just feels impossible. Support is just right down the street. If you or someone you know could use some help with a child who is struggling, don’t wait until it’s a crisis to ask for help.

If you or a child you know needs help, call Lamoille County Mental Health at (802) 888-5026 or visit www.lamoille.org.


Rebecca Copans has worked extensively in government affairs, public relations and communications. As a society, our greatest potential lies with our children. With this basic tenant firmly in mind, Rebecca worked most recently with the Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children and now with Lamoille County Mental Health to secure a stronger foundation for all Vermont families. 

A graduate of the University of Vermont and Dartmouth College, Rebecca holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in globalization. Her thesis concentration was the history and societal use of language and its effect on early cognitive development. She lives in Montpelier with her husband and three children.

What Is a Safe Sleep Environment for Your Baby?

By: Valerie Valcour

 

According to the CDC, in 2016 there were 4.5 infant deaths in Vermont. (CDC, 2017) This is the number of infant deaths (before age one year) per 1,000 live births.

The Vermont Department of Health (VDH) would like to help families not to have this experience. VDH has a web page where you will find 10 tips for making a Safe Sleep Environment for your baby.

VDH is having a discussion group about infant safe sleep. This is your opportunity to share your thoughts with JSI Research and Training Institute (JSI). JSI will be developing a well-researched infant safe sleep education campaign for our Vermont families, professionals and community organizations.

Please join us for a 1.5-hour conversation and snacks! 
Tuesday, October 3, 2017 – 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at Copley Hospital, Stephen’s Conference Room. To thank you for your time, each person will be provided with $50 in cash. Please let us know if you plan on attending. For more information, contact Lauren at 603-573-3352, lauren_smith@jsi.com.

 

References

CDC, National Vital Statistics System Retrieved from https://www.americashealthrankings.org/explore/2015-annual-report/measure/IMR/state/VT

PHOTOS BY: Aurimas Mikalauskas/CC BY-SA 2.0, Alick Sung/ CC BY 2.0, Sami Nurmi/ CC BY-NC 2.0, Sharon Mollerus/ CC BY 2.0, Derek Alfonso/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0, Kate Williams/CC BY 2.0


Valerie Valcour is a Public Health Nurse and specializes in chronic disease prevention and emergency preparedness at the community level for the Department of Health in Morrisville. Valerie has lived in Lamoille County most of her life. She graduated from People’s Academy in 1983 and worked as a nurse at Copley Hospital for several years. Recently Valerie has volunteered as a board member of both Community Health Services of Lamoille Valley and the Lamoille County Planning Commission.

Back to School Checklist

By: Jessica Bickford

Pencils… check!

Notebook paper… check!

Erasers…. Check!

Endless stacks of back to school forms… check!

Plans and lists are being made…but the real question facing families with school aged children is: “How are you helping prepare your child for the stress that a new year can bring?” 

While there is no formal checklist for this, I’ve compiled some snippets from some of Healthy Lamoille Valley’s go-to resource websites. We hope you check them out and talk about them as a family!

Parentupvt.orgLearn which students are most at risk of substance misuse, how to prevent misuse, and how to respond if you think your child might be trying alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs.

Website excerpt:

“We all know how important fitting in is when you’re a teenager. And drinking or drugs can seem like an easy way to make new friends and find a place in a new school. Teens can also feel pressured if they’re looking to fit into a group of kids who are drinking or using drugs. And some teens who’ve always been seen as “the good one” may even try to use drinking or drugs to change their image.

That’s why it’s so important to talk to your child and monitor your child’s behaviors, friends, and activities regularly—especially during times of transition.”

Ryanpatrickhalligan.org – Practical suggestions relating to technology and cyberbullying. John Halligan came to Bishop Marshall and Stowe schools last spring to share Ryan’s story with students and parents. If you couldn’t make it, you can now rent John’s parent presentation at this site as well.

Website Excerpt:

“If your child is under 13, you do have the option to have these accounts deleted since most of these services have an age and parental consent requirement per the Federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

      • Have them share with you all their user account names and passwords.
      • Make certain they never have and will never share their passwords with anyone, even a friend. Explain the risk of someone impersonating them and ruining their reputation
      • Remove the technology (cells phones, tablets, iPods, computers) from the bedroom, specifically, when it is time to sleep.”

Teens.drugabuse.gov – It’s important to give your kids resources as well. This one is designed for teens, but also has links for parents including researched based scientific facts about various drugs.

Website Excerpt:

“Another teen from Croatan High School in North Carolina submitted:

My best friend of 7 years has smoked cigarettes, smoked marijuana, and tried other drugs since she was 11. She has dealt with social services, law enforcement, and was sent to a foster home for 3 months. She has been back home for a month and says she’s going to change. I love her and don’t want her to go back down the same road again, but she doesn’t want to hear it when I talk to her about drugs. How can I help her?”

Healthvermont.gov – State, county, and school district data helps you to know what struggles and strengths your student encounters daily. Many of Lamoille Valley’s Middle and High Schools have student “Getting to Y” groups looking at this data and planning ways to help their classmates who may be struggling.

Website Excerpt:

“The YRBS was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1990 to monitor priority health risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death, disease, injury and social problems among youth. These behaviors, often established during childhood and early adolescence, include:

  • Behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence
  • Physical activity
  • Nutrition
  • Weight status
  • Tobacco use
  • Alcohol and other drug use
  • Sexual behaviors

The survey is part of a larger effort to help communities increase the resiliency of young people by reducing high risk behaviors and promoting healthy behaviors. Vermont collects student responses every two years from nearly every high school and middle school in the state.”

Was this information helpful? Do you have other resources you’d like to share? Share in the comments section below or message the author at: jessica@healthylamoillevalley.org.


Jessica Bickford has worked as Coordinator of Healthy Lamoille Valley for a little over two years, where she has enjoyed writing for their blog. Writing for Copley’s community blog is a natural extension of this experience! Healthy Lamoille Valley focuses on making healthy choices easy choices, realizing that when we have access to healthy options we are less likely to choose behaviors that are harmful. Prevention is really a lifestyle of wise choices that enable us to live life to the fullest.

The Difference DULCE Makes

By: Scott Johnson

Susan had just had her first child. She was excited to be a new mom but was overwhelmed with caring for her newborn, the family’s financial stress, and tension between her and her partner. At the baby’s initial newborn Well Child visit at Appleseed Pediatrics, Susan met Jenn, our DULCE Family Support worker.

DULCE (Developmental Understanding and Legal Collaboration for Everyone) is a three year demonstration project sponsored by the Center for the Study of Social Policy taking place in seven sites across the country. The Lamoille Family Center and Appleseed Pediatrics is the model for the program in a smaller rural community. DULCE is an innovative pediatric-care-based intervention through which primary care clinical sites proactively address social determinants of health and promote the healthy development of infants from birth to six months of age and provide support to their parents. DULCE’s intervention adds a Family Specialist (FS) to the pediatric care team, and the FS provides support for families with infants in the clinic setting, connecting them to resources based on parents’ needs and priorities – with the option of providing home visits, at the parents’ choice. The DULCE intervention incorporates a protective factors approach and draws on and incorporates components of the Medical-Legal Partnership model to ensure that families have access to the resources they need.

The DULCE family specialist meets with families at their first newborn pediatric visit and stays connected with them through their first six months. This gives new families support with issues that arise, but also in connects families to concrete supports that are designed to help families thrive.

Jenn referred Susan and her family to Economic Services and encouraged them to apply for Reach Up, a program that helps eligible parents gain job skills and find work so they can support their children. This family was already receiving WIC and 3Squares food benefits but they didn’t know about the program that provides supplemental income support for families with children. Receiving these benefits helped ease their financial stress.

Jenn worked with the DULCE Medical Legal Partner to help the child’s father apply for Social Security benefits. Over the next six months Jenn’s encouragement helped the family keep their scheduled well child visits, increased their food stability, and lifted some of the financial stress with a monthly Reach Up grant.  They also connected to Children’s Integrated Services at the Family Center for additional in-home parenting support and education.

In the year since their child was born, the increased support of the DULCE program helped the family develop a good rapport with their Pediatrician, keep current on their well child visits, and enroll in social programs that strengthen their family.

“I think this service was a nice addition to the already wonderful relationship we enjoy with Dr. Balu. I believe for families in more difficult family or friend circumstances it is probably essential. I can’t stress enough how important these types of services are to families. Emotional support and creating access to vital resources.” – DULCE parent

For more information about DULCE, visit https://www.cssp.org/pages/dulce.


Scott Johnson is Executive Director of the Lamoille Family Center and has worked in Lamoille Valley in human services and education for nearly his entire career. The Family Center has served our community by encouraging, educating and celebrating children, youth and families for forty years.

Scott writes about early care and education, adolescent development and strengthening families that improve conditions of well-being.

Help Me Grow

By: Steve Ames

Here in the Lamoille Valley Region, we’ve been excited to assist with the rollout of the Help Me Grow call center and other components of the Help Me Grow project. Together with my council, the Maternal Child Health Team, and other partners, we’ve been spreading the word about the availability of anonymous early childhood support from the Vermont Department of Health.

Help Me Grow is a new part of the Vermont Department of Health’s effort to ensure all children in Vermont are screened for developmental delays and to ensure that all kids and young families have the resources they need to grow and thrive. It’s part of the State’s 2-1-1 information center.

Vermont 2-1-1 is the number to dial to find out about hundreds of important community resources, like emergency food and shelter, disability services, counseling, senior services, health care, child care, drug and alcohol programs, legal assistance, transportation agencies, educational and volunteer opportunities, and now early childhood development. It’s free and confidential for all callers to use.

There are many kids and families who would benefit from support, but who slip through the cracks. They don’t get the help that could benefit them during early childhood – when support is most effective.

Help Me Grow proactively addresses a family’s concerns about their child’s behavior and development by providing an early childhood specialist at the other end of an anonymous phone line (2-1-1 extension 6) and making connections when needed to existing community-based services and high quality parent education resources. For example, a young family looking for child care, a playgroup, or advice on how to handle a rambunctious two year old will find help and solutions with a call. By strengthening connections and providing resources for families in this way, Help Me Grow supports caregivers to promote their child’s social and emotional well-being.

When parents, caregivers or child care providers work with children, a screening tool helps kids learn and adapt very early in their lives, allowing them to develop appropriately and get the help they need, when they need it, early on.

The Help Me Grow project has added a Developmental Screening section to the State’s Immunization Registry so that a child’s physician can see results of a screen and review it without re-screening if the screen was conducted by a child care provider or educator. It’s a great example of making the system of supports more efficient and less duplicative.

Additionally, Help Me Grow now has two Child Development specialists at the 2-1-1 call center that can help anyone with child-related questions. Parents and caregivers can call 2-1-1 x6 anytime and get answers to challenging questions about their kids.

I’ve been psyched to help the Department of Health spread the word about Help Me Grow, and to help develop the website and various tools to measure how effective the 2-1-1 line is. In addition, at our Regional Council meetings, we’ve been sharing call center data to track the development of any gaps in the systems of support for kids and young families.

A team from the Vermont Department of Health and Building Bright Futures was fortunate to be able to attend the Help Me Grow National Conference as well, where we learned about successful aspects of implementation by regions and States from every corner of the Country.

One of the key components of Help Me Grow around the country and here in Vermont is the ability of the team to share anonymous call data with partners and others. For us in the Lamoille Valley, this data sharing allows the Regional Council to get a better sense of what young families are struggling with. We get quarterly reports from Help Me Grow about what areas of concerns folks are calling in about. That allows us to identify gaps in support and work with partners to address those gaps.

Each of these types of activities strengthens kids and families, and the fabric of support that we have all built for our neighbors and fellow citizens. It’s a wonderful time to be a kid in Vermont!


As the Regional Coordinator for Building Bright Futures, Steve staffs The Lamoille Valley Building Bright Futures Regional Council, a volunteer committee focused on the well being of young children and their families. There is one such Council in each of twelve regions of the State. Steve also works with the Playroom in Morrisville. He writes about early childhood, families, community, play, and equity.

Questions About Vaccines? Please Ask!

By: Leah Hollenberger

The topic of vaccines and immunizations can be an emotional one. Certainly, as a parent, we want to protect our community, but at the same time, we want to do what is best for our child and avoid any harm. I did some reading on my own and, I am sure many of you can agree, it is easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of information and opinion that is available today.

I spoke with pediatrician Adrienne Pahl, MD with Appleseed Pediatrics. Dr. Pahl encouraged me to talk with my doctor. “Share your concerns, share what you are worried about with your doctor,” Dr. Pahl said.  “We can talk about current studies and findings and talk through recommendations with you. The most important thing to remember is that it is ok to ask.”

Dr. Pahl believes that vaccines are safe and effective and should be administered unless the child is unable to be vaccinated due to other health reasons. She bases her belief on extensive scientific evidence demonstrating the safety of vaccines and having cared for thousands of children. She explains that while we may not see many of the diseases for which we vaccinate, the bacteria and viruses that cause them are still around – here and in other countries. Vaccinations, along with better nutrition, better living conditions, hand-washing, and appropriate use of antibiotics, has meant many of us have never had to deal with an outbreak of polio or mumps. Her goal is that we never have to.

Here are several resources Dr. Pahl recommends to parents interested in learning more about vaccines:

Healthychildren.org – The American Academy of Pediatricians has a website that covers a wide variety of information of interest to parents. They have a number of articles about vaccines and immunizations, including a good FAQ.

Oktoaskvt.org – The Vermont Department of Health’s website about vaccines. Look here for information about state vaccine requirements. Dr. Pahl especially likes this site because of the “Ask” section: you can submit your questions about vaccines and local medical professionals will answer them.

What We Know About Vaccines and Autism – A blog article from UVM about vaccines and autism

Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia – Comprehensive and reliable information about vaccines for patients and healthcare professionals.

A listing of community resources for a variety of issues and topics is available online at copleyvt.org/community-resources.


Leah Hollenberger is the Vice President of Marketing, Development, and Community Relations for Copley Hospital. A former award-winning TV and Radio producer, she is the mother of two and lives in Morrisville. Her free time is spent volunteering, cooking, playing outdoors, and producing textile arts. Leah writes about community events, preventive care, and assorted ideas to help one make healthy choices.