Spotlight on: The Clinical and Translational Science Institute's Child Advancement Network (CAN)/Vroom Initiative

The Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) of Southeast Wisconsin at the Medical College of Wisconsin recently launched the Child Advancement Network (CAN), a comprehensive community engagement initiative aimed at narrowing the achievement gap in SE Wisconsin. The CTSI consortium of eight Milwaukee institutions (Froedtert Hospital, Medical College of Wisconsin, VA Medical Center, Children’s Hospital, Blood Research Institute, Marquette University, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, and Milwaukee School of Engineering) drives a collective commitment to shared resources, technology, knowledge, and expertise to work toward common goals in healthcare and health outcomes for our local and regional communities.

As momentum around early learning continues to build in Milwaukee, CTSI/CAN is partnering with community-based organizations in all sectors to help establish markers of success, ranging from kindergarten readiness through the CTSI 500 Stars program for high school and college students. CTSI is driving and coordinating integration of Vroom throughout the community, a program which translates groundbreaking science into accessible, actionable tips that encourage back and forth interactions between parents/caregivers and children to nurture children’s growing minds. CTSI/CAN is forging relationships and collaborations with over 100+ organizations, plus thousands of parents and individuals, utilizing Vroom in focusing on the importance of the first five years of a child’s life and turning shared moments into brain building moments.

The CTSI CAN/Vroom Initiative uses a collective action model to make large-scale changes through the combined efforts of their large network of partners and existing collaborations.Examples of how CTSI’s CAN/Vroom Initiative is coordinating resources, events and the activation throughout the community include:

  • Mind in the Making Institute – October 8-10, 2018. CTSI facilitated a 3-day Train-the-Trainer Institute (with the support of the Herzfeld Foundation) for representatives from 30 early learning partner organizations and CBO’s.Mind in the Making, an initiative of the Bezos Family Foundation, shares the science of children’s learning with the public, families, and professionals who work with children and families and fosters Life Skills that provide executive function.
  • Interfaith Pastoral Meeting -November 29, 2018 and the convening of a Council of Faiths February 2019– CTSI is utilizing the leadership and on-the-ground experience of the faith community in bringing brain-building messaging and the school readiness campaign directly to congregants and neighborhoods. CTSI partners with 200 churches as trusted messengers to organize our community-wide Child Advancement Network effort, and provide additional touchpoints to layer Vroom where children stay, play, pay and pray. CTSI is also convening a Council of Faiths to seek guidance from denominational and interfaith leaders to deepen our community engagement work, increase our community presence and garner involvement from the inception of program activities.
  • MPS Parent Coordinator Vroom Training , December 11, 2018– Parent coordinators from each MPS school participated in a hands-on workshop to introduce Vroom, learning how a child’s brain develops and identifying the types of interactions which build a child’s brain and are resources for parents and schools. CTSI will work with the MPS/MKE Early Childhood Initiative and partners to further the science behind Vroom, understand advances in neuroscience and child development to culminate with the 2019 CTSI CAN Early Childhood Summit in June 2019.
  • Milwaukee Succeeds Funder Collaborative Grant - Child Advancement Network (CAN)/Vroom Trusted Messenger Immunization Campaign – CTSI in partnership with the Milwaukee Succeeds Early Childhood Immunization Network (comprised of Milwaukee’s Hospital Health Systems and Federally Qualified Health Centers), will integrate three key CDC-approved immunization messages: (Vaccines are safe; Vaccines are effective; Vaccines are important for all of us) with Vroom’s app/tools/resources to provide partners with education, training, and coaching, as appropriate, towards the goal of increasing child immunization rates in selected zip codes from 67% to 72% by 2020. CTSI will also implement its Science Café Program, offering opportunities for biomedical researchers and experts to interact directly with the community in providing education regarding community-generated health/research topics.

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