Huffington Post: Economic Medicine For Lifelong Health

In the 60 years since I (TBB) first started practicing pediatrics, medical science has made many advances possible. Today’s doctors have access to new vaccines and surgical procedures that we could only dream of when I started out.

Yet science has also revealed that raising healthy children requires more than the latest medical treatments. When children grow up in poverty — as over one out of every six in the United States do (Wimer, Fox, Garfinkel, Kaushal, and Waldfogel, 2013) — the experience can have dire consequences.

Babies born poor face lifelong consequences for health, mental health, and success in school and in life. Asthma, obesity, diabetes, and learning disabilities are just some of the challenges that children who grow up poor are more likely to face (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2015). And they are far more likely to remain poor as adults (see for instance, Greenstone, Looney, Patashnik, and Yu, 2013). This means that their babies, too, are at higher risk of being born — and dying — poor.

The challenges that children living in poverty face are profound and unfair. Americans of every stripe know that babies don’t choose the circumstances they are born into. And they don’t choose the lifelong consequences of childhood poverty either.

Read the rest of the article here. 

Congressional Baby Caucus and Brazelton Touchpoints Center Respond to Opioid Crisis in July 12 Briefing

Communities Can Improve Outcomes for Drug-Exposed Infants and their Families


WASHINGTON, D.C. – 11 July, 2016 – On July 12 from 12-1:20 pm, the Congressional Baby Caucus will host a briefing to highlight innovative approaches to caring for infants with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, a growing public health threat stemming from our nation’s opioid crisis.  The briefing will be held in Room 2103 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, from 2000 to 2012, the number of babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (drug withdrawal resulting from exposure to addictive opiates during gestation) quintupled, increasing to nearly 22,000 babies in 2012.   Even more startling is that these levels do not contemplate the explosion in opioid usage experiences over the past several years.

The briefing will focus on innovative approaches that reduce costs and improve outcomes by emphasizing parent inclusion and empowerment in the treatment of these high-risk infants.  Briefing speakers include –

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro

Dr. Matthew Rogers Grossman, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics; Associate Director, Pediatric Residency Program; Medical Director, Short Stay Unit; Interim Quality and Safety Officer, Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital.  His innovative approach to engaging parents in care of NAS newborns has reduced average hospital stays from 28 days to 6.

Dr. Joshua D. Sparrow, MD, Director, Brazelton Touchpoints Center, Boston Children’s Hospital and President, Brazelton Touchpoints Foundation.  For the last 20 years, Dr. Sparrow, a child, adolescent, and general psychiatrist, and the Center have worked deeply and for the long haul in community systems – health care, early education, home visiting, child welfare, libraries, schools and more – to develop strengths-based, trauma-informed services that improve outcomes for children and families.

The Honorable Katherine Lucero, Supervising Judge, Juvenile Justice Court Division, Santa Clara, CA, and co-creator of innovative therapeutic court programs including the Family Treatment Court and the Dependency Family Wellness Court.  These approaches have resulted in significant improvements in the lives of children and families, and reduced costs to the foster care, health care, and court systems.

About Brazelton Touchpoints Center

The Brazelton Touchpoints Center was founded in 1996 by Dr. T. Berry Brazelton and colleagues and is based at Boston Children’s Hospital, a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital. Together with families, providers and communities, the Brazelton Touchpoints Center develops and applies knowledge of early childhood development to practice and policy through professional and organizational development, evaluation, advocacy and awareness and serving as a resource for proven practices.  Dr. Sparrow says that, “For twenty years, the Touchpoints Approach has been used by family-facing professionals and institutions around the country to partner with parents of infants and young children.  When parents are struggling with the effects of poverty, trauma, substance abuse and other mental health challenges, health care, child welfare, education and other professionals turn to the Touchpoints Approach to partner with families to find and build on their strengths.”

About FIRST 5 Santa Clara and the Family Courts

The Santa Clara County Courts partnered with FIRST 5 Santa Clara to help end the cycle of families appearing and re-appearing before the courts with substance use and mental health challenges that resulted in the removal to foster care of multiple infants and children.  As part of these reforms, the Touchpoints Approach was implemented as a foundation of practice across the system of care.  To date, Santa Clara County has 565 service providers, including the court and child welfare systems, who practice Touchpoints.

Jolene Smith, CEO of FIRST 5, explains, “We partnered with the dependency and child welfare systems because we wanted to impact the intergenerational cycle of children born to parents who experience trauma and struggle with substance abuse, many of whom are former foster youth themselves.”  In discussing drug court practices, she states, “ In general, most of the drug treatment courts have been adult focused.  We have the opportunity, and more importantly, the responsibility, to shift the focus to a child-centered approach.”  The result of the collaboration among agencies and with the courts has been a dramatic improvement in child and family outcomes, including reduced time spent in foster care; improved mental health and substance treatment compliance and outcomes; reduced number of subsequent NAS babies born to program participants; and reduced costs to social programs.  Touchpoints training was an important driver in these outcomes, as it built knowledge and skills to support families and their children.   Smith points out that, “Over 90% of Touchpoints participants reported that Touchpoints training resulted in an increase in their ability to engage and build positive relationships with the children and families they serve; broadened their perspective to see parents/caregivers as experts on their own children; and developed an enhanced understanding of the importance of reflective practice to strengthen relationships with children and families.”
Full News Story:


11th Annual National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

TODAY the Brazelton Touchpoints Center is supporting the celebration of the 11th Annual National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day (Awareness Day)!   Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day shines a national spotlight on the importance of caring for every child’s mental health which is essential to a child’s healthy development. The theme for 2016 is “Finding Help, Finding Hope.” The goal is to explore how communities can work together to increase access to behavioral health services and supports for children, youths, and young adults who experience mental or substance use disorders, and their families.

Family Connections is an early childhood mental health consultation and professional staff development  program of Boston Children’s Hospital that supports early childhood and home visiting programs in their outreach to families facing mental health challenges, particularly parental depression. Brazelton Touchpoints Center offers to early education and home visiting programs, a blended model of interventions that uses both Family Connections and Brazelton Touchpoints models to enhance development, parenting, mental health support, and relationship building.

Learn more about Family Connections, and visit our calendar for professional development opportunities.

Joshua Sparrow, MD, speaks at White House Early Learning Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Symposium

Brazelton Touchpoints Center director Joshua Sparrow, MD, participated in a panel entitled “Ensuring Inclusive practices in Early Childhood STEM” at the White House Early Learning Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Symposium on Thursday, April 21, 2016.

The symposium brought together researchers, educators, and government and business leaders to discuss the importance of STEM learning in the earliest years.

Livestream Event Featuring Dr. Renee Boynton-Jarrett on Addressing Community Trauma

You are invited to join Dr. Renée Boynton-Jarrett via live stream as part of the 26th Annual Indiana University Northwest Forum on Child Abuse and Neglect: Raising Northwest Indiana.

This event is free of charge, but registration is required.

Renée Boynton-Jarrett

Renée Boynton-Jarrett, MD, ScD

It Takes a Village: The Vital Village Network, Addressing Community Trauma, and Connecting Systems of Care to Improve Child Wellbeing

Friday, April 29, 10:45am-12:00pm (Central)

Dr. Renée Boynton-Jarrett will discuss strategies for mobilizing communities by engaging families and community-based agencies in coordinated efforts to build collective will and actions to prevent childhood adversity.

The Vital Village Network uses a collective impact approach to improve community systems in order to support setting-level improvements that enhance family and community protective factors and ultimately prevent and mitigate childhood adversities and promote optimal well-being. This workshop will also review data sharing systems and barriers and challenges to operating as a backbone agency.


A limited number of spaces are available:

Registration also includes access to Dr. Boynton-Jarrett’s morning keynote address Preventing Adversity is Necessary but Not Sufficient: Setting a New Agenda for All Children to Thrive, Friday, April 29, 9:10-10:30am (Central).


Ann Coleman Stadtler, DNP, MSN, CPNP, Receives Loretta C. Ford Distinguished Fellow Award from NAPNAP

The Brazelton Touchpoints Center (BTC) is proud to announce that Ann Coleman Stadtler, DNP, MSN, CPNP, received the Loretta C. Ford Distinguished Fellow Award at the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Associates and Practitioners (NAPNAP) Annual Conference in Atlanta, GA on March 16, 2016. This award is named for Dr. Ford who founded the nurse practitioner movement in 1965, and recognizes a member of NAPNAP for contributions to the expansion or improvement of pediatric healthcare, and advancement of the profession of pediatric nurse practitioners at the local community, state, or regional level.

Dr. Stadtler, a nurse practitioner, is a founding faculty member of the Brazelton Touchpoints Center who led the professional development program for 20 years and is presently the Center’s director for Outreach & Network Development. She has traveled nationally and internationally sharing the Brazelton Touchpoints approach and the Newborn Behavioral Observations (NBO) system with a diverse array of practitioners. Among other current projects, Dr. Stadtler is leading a team at Boston Children’s Hospital in the development of a simulation to support nurses providing family-centered care.

“I am delighted that Ann’s contributions to the field are being recognized by this award,” said T. Berry Brazelton, MD, founder of the Brazelton Touchpoints Center. “Ann was a key player in the team that realized the vision of the Brazelton Touchpoints Center to support children’s healthy development through their relationships, and the wellbeing, of their families.”

Dr. Stadtler was a pioneer in the nurse practitioner movement. She had a successful practice in Montgomery County, MD and credits Dr. T. Berry Brazelton for his important influence on her practice.  At Boston Children’s Hospital she was associate director of the Medical Diagnostic Programs, director of the Preschool Function Program, coordinator of the Asthma and Allergy Program and the Pain and Incontinence Program. She is one of the developers of Toilet School, a successful intervention for children who fail to toilet train by age four.

Dr. Stadtler received the Wong Hock Boon Professorship from the Singapore University Hospital, the Massachusetts March of Dimes Nurse Practitioner of the Year, the Boston Children’s Hospital’s “That’s the Spirit” award, the Touchpoints Distinguished Leader Award, and the St. Mary’s Academy Bay View Alumna of the Year. She is co-chair of the Doctorate of Nursing Practice program at Northeastern University where she is adjunct faculty and she is a lecturer at the University of California Davis Extension–Faculty for Infant-Parent Mental Health Fellowship Program, Napa, CA.

Welcome Brazelton Touchpoints Center Executive Director Jane Tewksbury

TewksburyWe are delighted to welcome Brazelton Touchpoints Center’s new Executive Director, Jane Tewksbury. For the past four years, Jane has served as Executive Director of Thrive in 5,an early childhood partnership between the City of Boston and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, focused on the health, well-being, and school readiness of all of Boston’s young children. With significant experience in executive management of both public sector and private non-profit organizations, Jane has a long and successful record of moving a vision from concept and design to policy and practice. We look forward to her leadership in advancing the Brazelton Touchpoints Center’s vision for young children and their families. She will assume her new post on November 30, 2015, succeeding Terry Ann Lunt.

“I’m thrilled to have such a passionate advocate for children join the Brazelton Touchpoints Center,” said founder T. Berry Brazelton, MD.
Mayor of Boston, Martin J. Walsh said, “I want to congratulate Jane on her new position and look forward to her and the team at Brazelton Touchpoints Center continuing their incredible work. Jane made invaluable contributions to improving early care and learning in Boston through her work at Thrive in 5.  We look forward to her continued leadership in the field.”

Working with our strong staff and board of the Brazelton Touchpoints Foundation, and in partnership with Dr. Brazelton and Joshua D. Sparrow, MD, Jane will oversee the strategic planning and management of the Brazelton Touchpoints Center and all of its programs and services, provide direction and leadership toward the fulfillment of its mission, and develop and lead the implementation of a comprehensive strategy to support the center’s expansion and revenue generation.

“I have had the privilege of working with and on behalf of some of the most vulnerable children and families in Boston,” said Jane. “I know firsthand from my work as Commissioner of the Department of Youth Services for the State of Massachusetts that we must start at the very beginning of life, and even before, to support families so that they can better support and nurture their children to reach their full potential. I am honored to join the Brazelton Touchpoints Center in its 20th year of supporting children’s healthy development and early learning. Professionally and personally, for me this is a dream come true.”

The Brazelton Touchpoints Center, in the Division of Developmental Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, collaborates with providers, organizations, institutions, systems of care, and communities who understand that to improve outcomes for children, they must engage more effectively with families. To reach as many families and other caregivers as possible, we work with health and education providers who partner with families during children’s most formative years. The Brazelton Touchpoints Center is also home to the Office of Head Start and Office of Child Care National Center on Parent, Family and Community Engagement.

“As the Executive Director of Thrive in 5, Jane has been a leader in efforts to identify young children who are at risk of falling behind and to connect them to resources that will enable them to succeed when they enter school,” said Michael K. Durkin, President at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “We are eager to continue working with Jane in her new role at the Brazelton Touchpoints Center to help ensure every child has access to a high quality educational opportunity.”

In addition to serving as Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services, and as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney, Jane completed a mid-career Children and Family Fellowship at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, where she was deployed to the Arkansas Department of Juvenile Justice and later to the Maryland Subcabinet on Children, Youth and Families, to work on state level systems reform efforts affecting disadvantaged children and families.

Jane is an appointed member of the Children’s Trust Fund board for the prevention of child abuse and of the Committee for Public Counsel Services, which oversees the appointment of counsel to represent indigent persons in the Commonwealth’s court system. A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard/Radcliffe College, and the University of Wisconsin Law School, Jane is the recipient of many awards in recognition of her professional achievements and volunteer activities.

Kathryn Barnard Memorial after Zero to Three NTI in Seattle, 12/5/15

Invitation from Zero to Three: Celebration of the Life and Legacy of Dr. Kathryn E. Barnard

As many of you know, the NCAST Parent-Child Interaction Feeding & Teaching scales were developed out of the innovative and great spirit of Dr. Kathryn Barnard. Though Kathy is no longer here, her voice lives on through the important work you are doing with young children and their families.

A “Celebration of the Life and Legacy of Dr. Kathryn E. Barnard” will be held Saturday December 5th at 10:00 AM at the Washington State Convention Center, 800 Convention Pl, Seattle, WA 98101.

A brief reception with light refreshments will be held afterwards from 11:30-12:00.

All are welcome to join her Estate and ZERO TO THREE to remember Dr. Barnard and honor her extensive contributions to the field and to her friends, family, colleagues and community.

Here is a video of Kathy’s colleagues talking about working with her and the impact she made:

In Memory of Christina L. Brazelton

Dear friends and colleagues,

It is with deep sadness that I share the news that Dr. Brazelton’s beloved wife of 66 years, Chrissy, passed away peacefully at home in Barnstable, Massachusetts. She is survived by her husband, their four children and grandchildren. Read more.

Please join me in offering Dr. Brazelton and his family our most heartfelt sympathy.
Information about services and expressions of sympathy may be found here.

Very truly yours,

Terry Ann Lunt, MPA
Executive Director

Step Up for Kids on October 6: Special Message from Every Child Matters

October 6 is the date that Every Child Matters has set for Step Up for Kids 2015! As in the past, if a different date nearby suits you and your organization better, we won’t hold you exactly to the 6th.

We’ve been sponsoring Step Up for Kids nationally since 2008, working with organizations in each state to draw attention to kids’ needs. Once again, we’re looking for groups to spotlight those needs through events that are fun and family-friendly, with a serious message.

If that sounds like you, we’re ready to provide the materials and direction you may need: t-shirts, how-to guides, conference calls, media help, even a small stipend!

This year’s presidential candidate selection process is turning attention to kids’ issues. The parents and children agenda is taking center stage, with Robert Putnam’s book, Our Kids, generating candidate and media talk about the “opportunity gap” separating affluent kids from those who are less affluent when it comes to their chances for life success, and with Iowa voters telling the state’s top pollster that their number-one priority is the well-being, health and education of children.

Please help us draw attention to the needs of children in your state. Let us know as soon as possible if your organization might be interested in taking the lead in your state, or if you wish to recommend another group. We may even consider providing stipends to more than one group per state.

We can tailor materials to your state and event, with logos and branding opportunities for all participating groups.

Need more information? Check out our Step Up FAQs here. Please direct any replies or questions to Ursula Ellis in our Washington office at, or at 202-223-2443.

Thank you! –Brian Ahlberg


Please complete the short questionnaire below to apply for the $500 stipend we offer to a leading organization in each Step Up state, and return to Ursula Ellis at




Your Name:


Phone #:


Describe briefly the event you plan to host as part of the 2015 Step Up for Kids day. Please include any preliminary thoughts on:

  • location
  • type of event
  • speakers
  • cosponsors
  • anticipated audience

Signer agrees to send ECM a final update of the event with photos and press clippings or links to articles.
Authorized Signer for the non-profit lead organization


To help you in thinking about your event, here are ECM’s general goals for Step Up:
• Raising public awareness of the needs of children and families.
• Getting candidates and elected officials at every level of government to present their plans for shifting spending priorities towards families and children.
• Getting the media to cover the children and family issues and how state and federal governments are making the policy decisions to meet their needs.
• Making America’s children a national political and policy priority.
• Closing the gap that has formed over the years in our investments in children.
• Using it as a non-partisan launch to encourage non-voters to register and everyone to vote with kids’ well-being in mind.
• Distributing ECM materials before, during, and after the event.

What the event should/could look like:
ECM encourages each lead group and partners to come up with an event design that will work best for their state. The event should be fun but have a serious message. It should not focus solely on one issue but cover a gamut of overarching problems and needs, such as poverty; abuse and neglect; lack of health care, including oral health; access to quality early care and learning; access to after-school programs, etc.
• When? On or around September 23.
• Where? When feasible on the steps of the state capitol building. (Other venues have included state fairs, large public parks, etc.)
• Focus? Children’s needs/issues in the state.
• Audience/Participants? Children’s advocates, including service providers (early education teachers, child care providers, after-school personnel, members of the medical community) parents, grandparents, children, legislators, other public officials, members of the media.
• Speakers? Service providers, advocates, experts, families and children with their own stories, a pediatrician…. It would be helpful if one of the speakers is well-known enough to draw media attention.
• Entertainment & Refreshments? Absolutely. Previous events have included performances, games and activities for children, tours of the state capitol, give-away items, etc. Many states have received donated refreshments for their events.

Please complete the following and return to Ursula Ellis at
Your Name:
Phone #:
Describe briefly the event you plan to host as part of the 2015 Step Up for Kids day. Please include any preliminary thoughts on:
• location
• type of event
• speakers
• cosponsors
• anticipated audience
Signer agrees to send ECM a final update of the event with photos and press clippings or links to articles.

Authorized Signer for the non-profit lead organization


Brian Ahlberg
Every Child Matters Education Fund

You can help win the fight for our kids.
Make a tax-deductible donation at