Pediatrics Supporting Parents

Pediatricians partnering with parents to promote social and emotional development.

This initiative has the ambitious long-term goal of improving pediatric primary care to foster social and emotional development in the same way that it focuses on physical health and cognitive development. Pediatrics Supporting Parents' ultimate vision is to help ensure that all children from birth to age 3 receive the supports they need to achieve kindergarten readiness and positive life outcomes.

The early years of life (birth to age three) represent a unique opportunity for pediatricians to work with families to support children’s healthy development. This is a time when families play a big role in their children's social and emotional growth. It's also a time when pediatricians can have a big impact on families—during these early years, families are especially involved, curious and open to new ideas.

We can make the most of this period by working at the family and pediatrics practice level to help pediatricians foster interactions between parents and children that support healthy social and emotional growth. And by focusing on at-risk children, we can help all families have access to the programs and resources needed to support their children’s early development.

Keep scrolling, or use these quick links, to learn more.

Participating States | Driver Diagram | What Does It Take and Who Do We Need? | What We Will Uncover  | Related Insights 


Status: Complete

November 2017 – April 2020

  • Who: 18 pediatric practices across the nation
  • Funder: Phase one: The Silicon Valley Community Foundation Pediatrics Supporting Parents Fund;  Phase two: Donors like you 
  • Our Role: Leveraging its background in improvement science, NICHQ will provide oversight and technical assistance to support the pediatric practices as they test strategies, collect and analyze data, and report on findings that lead to sustainable improvement, which ultimately can be scaled nationally.

If you are interested in learning more about this project, email us at [email protected] or view the full project charter

Participating States

Participating States

The learning community sites are provided technical assistance and an online collaborative workplace to promote continuous communication, and a data dashboard to capture shared measures and track progress toward the common agenda. Click on a state in green to see the participating pediatric and family practice sites. Or view a list of all sites.Below is a list of all participating pediatric and family practice sites. Or view the map.Below is a list of all participating pediatric and family practice sites:



  • Irvington: Mostellar Medical Center


  • Anchorage: Alaska Center for Pediatrics


  • Sylmar: Northeast Valley Health Corporation


  • Shelbyville: MHP Pediatrics


  • Bastrop: Morehouse Community Medical Centers, Inc.


  • Baltimore: Dr. Ken Tellerman - Pediatric


  • Boston: Boston Children's Primary Care

New York

  • Blasdell: Neighborhood Health Center
  • Brooklyn: Bishop Orris G. Walker, Jr. Health Care Center
  • Buffalo: Main Pediatrics
  • Buffalo: Niagara Street Pediatrics
  • Buffalo: Jericho Community Health Center
  • Buffalo: Towne Garden Pediatric
  • Troy: CapitalCare Pediatrics Troy

North Carolina

  • Conover: Unifour Pediatrics, PA


  • Salem: Childhood Health Associates of Salem


  • Park City: Wasatch Pediatrics


  • Roanoke: Carilion Children's Pediatric Medicine
Participating States

Why Social Emotional Development?

Hear from the experts. 

During the early years of life, when neurons are rapidly firing, children’s social emotional skills are developing right alongside their cognitive capabilities. These skills are critical for their healthy future because they help children experience and express human emotions, empathize and get along with others, and build healthy relationships. In this short video, four experts define and explore social emotional development, and the impact of early relationships and experiences. 

Driver Diagram

Driver Diagram

Primary Driver 1: Prepared Family System

  • Secondary Driver 1: Families educated and activated around the social and emotional development and age-appropriate expectations during well child visits.
  • Secondary Driver 2: Behaviors that promote social and emotional development modeled during well child visits.
  • Secondary Driver 3: Support of primary caregivers' well-being and mental health.
  • Secondary Driver 4: Designed promotion and anticipatory guidance into multiple facets of the well child visits.
  • Secondary Driver 6: Family engagement with change & improvement processes—primary caregivers as team members.

Primary Driver 2: Systematic Observation, Surveillance, Screening & Assessment

  • Secondary Driver 1: Behavioral and developmental screening using validated tools during the well child visit.
  • Secondary Driver 2: Assessment of interactions and relationship between primary caregiver-child during well child visit.
  • Secondary Driver 3: Assessment of family strengths and risks.
  • Secondary Driver 4: Assessment and support of primary caregivers' well-being and mental health.

Primary Driver 3: Referral to Needed Supports

  • Secondary Driver 1: Care coordination and navigation.
  • Secondary Driver 3: Development of community alliances and cooperative relationships.

Primary Driver 4: Prepared Care Team

  • Secondary Driver 1: Ongoing learning for the care team and staff.
  • Secondary Driver 2: Supports for clinics to address burnout, stress/fatigue and retention issues.
  • Primary Caregiver: The biological parent or an individual who has established a primary caregiver-child relationship.
  • Primary caregiver-child relationship: A selective, meaningful, and significant psychological relationship between a child and their dominant caregiver that develops through mutual interactions and persists over time.

What Does It Take and Who Do We Need?

What Does It Take and Who Do We Need?

Improving pediatric care will be a long-term journey that involves partnering with key decision-makers. By the end of this journey, we hope to have:

  • Parents and families who are educated about social and emotional growth needs and can demand best practices and resources for their children.
  • Healthcare systems and practitioners who believe they have a role to play in social and emotional development, and will commit to investing in training and changing the way they practice.
  • Public and private insurance payers, particularly Medicaid, who reimburse for these services, ensuring feasibility and incentivizing healthcare practitioners to implement these strategies.
  • Existing programs that support social and emotional development in and around the pediatric channels and reach the children and families in need of additional resources.
  • Communities with city leaders who champion the needs of children and families, and provide local, tailored resources to support community needs.
  • Policymakers who support and incentivize programs that elevate the importance of social and emotional development in young children.
  • Philanthropy by funders committed to innovation that moves towards systems change, both in healthcare systems and in testing new payment models.
Child at pediatric practice
  • What gaps in the community present barriers to the effectiveness of improvement strategies?
  • How do we scale these improvement strategies to target different populations in various settings?

What Will We Uncover

Fundamentally, this is a learning investment to unlock an understanding of what works and is scalable. By the end of this first phase of work, we hope to have uncovered answers to the following questions:

  • What are promising strategies for helping pediatric settings improve children’s social and emotional development, and parent-child bonding?
  • How can these strategies be implemented efficiently and effectively for different populations, particularly low-income families and communities of color, in various settings?
  • What community infrastructure or conditions appear to enable strategies to be most effective for different populations and in different contexts?

Read this report about promoting social-emotional development in primary care.

Related Insights

Related Insights