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The New Jersey Pediatric Residency Advocacy Collaborative (NJPRAC) is a statewide collaborative with faculty leads from each of the 10 New Jersey pediatric residency programs. The 2 major goals of the collaborative were to build community partnerships between pediatric residency programs and local organizations and develop a core advocacy curriculum. In this article, we focus on how the NJPRAC built community partnerships with Family Success Centers (FSCs) across the state over the course of a 2-year period. FSCs are located within every county in the state and fall under the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, providing resources and supports for families in crisis, with a focus on child abuse prevention services. Amid this growing partnership, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic forced the NJPRAC to swiftly pivot its partnership and develop innovative programs to support families during the COVID-19 pandemic. As FSC leadership communicated families’ concerns to the collaborative, we initiated the Virtual House Call webinar, which incorporated pediatricians, community leaders, and allied health professionals to answer COVID-19 questions. These webinars quickly expanded into weekly interprofessional series, with experts in mental health, law, nutrition, and dentistry partnering with pediatricians from various subspecialties. Key to the webinars’ success was responding in real time to audience questions, collaborating with the FSC leadership on content, and garnering the support from the local New Jersey Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics and the national American Academy of Pediatrics. A key challenge remains to meaningfully incorporate pediatric trainees into community partnerships. The NJPRAC plans to continue the Virtual House Call series with continuous input from the FSCs and participating families.

The New Jersey Pediatric Residency Advocacy Collaborative (NJPRAC) formed in 2013 as a culmination of the Leonard P. Rome Visiting Professorship (VP) from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which brought together faculties interested in advocacy training, from all 10 New Jersey pediatric residency programs. The VP was the launching pad to develop a meaningful and outcomes-based collaborative curriculum in advocacy and community health throughout all the New Jersey pediatric training programs.

In 2018, a second VP was held to strengthen the NJPRAC’s to statewide collaboration, including curricula and faculty development around community health and advocacy. On the successes of the VP meeting, the Community Pediatrics Training Initiative (CPTI) of the AAP received a planning grant from The Nicholson Foundation. The purpose of the grant was to support the NJPRAC to identify strategies and intended outcomes for pediatrician and community partnerships around early childhood. The NJPRAC’s objective to educate future pediatricians of New Jersey around the importance of community partnership fit seamlessly into The Nicholson Foundation’s overall mission “to [improve] the health and well-being of vulnerable populations in New Jersey.”1  As part of this planning grant, all 10 pediatric residency programs in New Jersey committed to delegating a faculty champion to be an active member of the NJPRAC. Other deliverables included a landscape analysis of early-childhood–pediatric partnerships in New Jersey, an initial statewide meeting for faculty leads to identify priorities of the collaborative, and an early-childhood community partner.

On the basis of the success of the planning grant, the CPTI received a 2-year implementation grant from The Nicholson Foundation in 2019. The implementation grant supported the NJPRAC to continue to build education curricula for the New Jersey pediatric residency programs and strengthen the community partnerships focused on early childhood. The collaborative prioritized building the community partnerships and expanded its focus on curriculum development (feeling that the partnerships could provide a foundation for some of the educational components).

Initial objectives of the collaborative included the following (Table 1):

  • 1. identify partnership strategies and intended outcomes for early-childhood–pediatric partnerships;

  • 2. develop leadership skills to accomplish collaborative and partnership goals; and

  • 3. develop sustainability plans for continued collaborative efforts.

TABLE 1

Timeline of Development and Evolution of the NJPRAC

Time LineEventObjective(s)Product
2013 Leonard P. Rome VP from the AAP Develop a meaningful and outcomes-based collaborative in advocacy and community health across the New Jersey pediatric residency programs. NJPRAC formed, annual Pediatric Resident Advocacy Day, NJAAP White Coat Day 
2018 Second Leonard P. Rome VP Produce a stronger collaborative framework with robust curricula, increase capacity of faculty as leaders and advocates, and coordinate collective power of pediatricians and trainees across the state. 7 of 10 residency programs participated in 2-d event (faculty and residents) 
2018 CPTI of the AAP received a planning grant from The Nicholson Foundation Identify partnership strategies and intended outcomes for early-childhood–pediatric partnerships. Describe the priority achievement areas for the collaborative. Develop leadership skills to accomplish collaborative and partnership goals. Construct enhanced training curricula and assessment for pediatric trainees and faculty. Develop sustainability plans for continued collaborative efforts. Commitment from all 10 pediatric residency programs; needs assessment to help determine priority areas for growth across the residency programs; each residency program identified a minimum of 1 faculty champion to participate in the collaborative; October 2018: in-person meeting with all residency programs in attendance 
2019 CPTI received implementation grant (2-y period) from The Nicholson Foundation Enhance leadership capacity of New Jersey departments of pediatrics and pediatric residency programs and pediatricians in early-childhood health promotion. Create and strengthen local collaborative relationships and authentic partnerships with community-based organizations. Sustain improvements to pediatric training curricula through collaborative faculty development. Apply child health promotion and prevention initiatives to improve early childhood. Statewide collaboration with FSCs, evidence-based programs started at each FSC 
Time LineEventObjective(s)Product
2013 Leonard P. Rome VP from the AAP Develop a meaningful and outcomes-based collaborative in advocacy and community health across the New Jersey pediatric residency programs. NJPRAC formed, annual Pediatric Resident Advocacy Day, NJAAP White Coat Day 
2018 Second Leonard P. Rome VP Produce a stronger collaborative framework with robust curricula, increase capacity of faculty as leaders and advocates, and coordinate collective power of pediatricians and trainees across the state. 7 of 10 residency programs participated in 2-d event (faculty and residents) 
2018 CPTI of the AAP received a planning grant from The Nicholson Foundation Identify partnership strategies and intended outcomes for early-childhood–pediatric partnerships. Describe the priority achievement areas for the collaborative. Develop leadership skills to accomplish collaborative and partnership goals. Construct enhanced training curricula and assessment for pediatric trainees and faculty. Develop sustainability plans for continued collaborative efforts. Commitment from all 10 pediatric residency programs; needs assessment to help determine priority areas for growth across the residency programs; each residency program identified a minimum of 1 faculty champion to participate in the collaborative; October 2018: in-person meeting with all residency programs in attendance 
2019 CPTI received implementation grant (2-y period) from The Nicholson Foundation Enhance leadership capacity of New Jersey departments of pediatrics and pediatric residency programs and pediatricians in early-childhood health promotion. Create and strengthen local collaborative relationships and authentic partnerships with community-based organizations. Sustain improvements to pediatric training curricula through collaborative faculty development. Apply child health promotion and prevention initiatives to improve early childhood. Statewide collaboration with FSCs, evidence-based programs started at each FSC 

With the focus on building community partnerships to improve the early-childhood health of children in New Jersey, the impact of disparity and inequity was critically important. In 2018, 14% of children in New Jersey lived at or below the poverty level. However, the rates are more than double in specific cities across the state. For example, in Newark, 36% lived at or below the poverty level and 63% in low-income households (200% federal poverty level). In Trenton, 40% lived below the poverty level and 70% in low-income households.2  In 2020, 14% of eligible children <3 years of age in New Jersey had access to Early Head Start, whereas 35% of eligible children ages 3 to 5 had access to Head Start.3 

Given these health inequities, we recognized the need to focus on early-childhood interventions. As pediatricians, we identified the gap in connecting families both inside and outside of our office walls. Relationship building with families and creating open dialogues directly between parents and pediatricians were crucial steps to better understand the concerns of individual families within the community. Without this, we as pediatricians would be making assumptions regarding families’ needs and thus offer resources and/or tools that are not relevant or feasible. In searching for strategies to partner with families, the Family Success Centers (FSCs) became the obvious choice because of their focus on child abuse prevention, their linkage of families to local resources, and their geographic locations in close proximity to each pediatric training program in New Jersey. Moreover, faculty coleads and the New Jersey Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics (NJAAP) already had a relationship with the FSCs (both on the state and community levels), so formalization of this partnership seemed the organic next step.

The FSCs (58 in total across the state) are housed under the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF). Each center provides resources and support strategies for children and families, with a focus on child abuse prevention. Services include referral services, parent education, parent-child activities, and job readiness support. Although FSCs have many programs in common, each FSC is unique, tailoring its programs to the specific community it serves.

NJPRAC members worked with leadership from the DCF, which oversees the FSCs, and helped each pediatric residency program partner with a local FSC to build community partnerships. This created a unifying structural relationship with a statewide entity across all pediatric residency programs, while at the same time allowing each program to tailor their work to meet the needs of their local community through the FSC. Each residency-FSC pair framed their work on improving early-childhood outcomes by employing evidence-based interventions on the basis of community needs (Table 2).

TABLE 2

Early-Childhood Intervention by Pediatric Residency Program

Pediatric Residency ProgramEarly-Childhood Intervention
Goryeb Children’s Hospital, Atlantic Health System, Morristown, New Jersey Health literacy (by using CDC training program) 
Children’s Regional Hospital at Cooper, Camden, New Jersey Trauma-informed care with ACE screening implementation 
Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center, Hackensack, New Jersey Active Parenting program 
K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Neptune, New Jersey Active Parenting program 
Unterberg Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center, Long Branch, New Jersey Active Parenting program 
Children’s Hospital of New Jersey at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, Newark, New Jersey Active Parenting program 
Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey Active Parenting program 
Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, New Jersey Strengthening Families curriculum 
Development of family health ambassadors 
The Children’s Hospital at Saint Peter’s University Hospital, New Brunswick, New Jersey Active Parenting program 
St Joseph’s Children’s Hospital at St Joseph’s University Medical Center, Paterson, New Jersey Active Parenting program 
Pediatric Residency ProgramEarly-Childhood Intervention
Goryeb Children’s Hospital, Atlantic Health System, Morristown, New Jersey Health literacy (by using CDC training program) 
Children’s Regional Hospital at Cooper, Camden, New Jersey Trauma-informed care with ACE screening implementation 
Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center, Hackensack, New Jersey Active Parenting program 
K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Neptune, New Jersey Active Parenting program 
Unterberg Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center, Long Branch, New Jersey Active Parenting program 
Children’s Hospital of New Jersey at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, Newark, New Jersey Active Parenting program 
Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey Active Parenting program 
Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, New Jersey Strengthening Families curriculum 
Development of family health ambassadors 
The Children’s Hospital at Saint Peter’s University Hospital, New Brunswick, New Jersey Active Parenting program 
St Joseph’s Children’s Hospital at St Joseph’s University Medical Center, Paterson, New Jersey Active Parenting program 

ACE, adverse childhood experience; CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Specific objectives for our community partnership included the following:

  • 1. create and strengthen local collaborative relationships and authentic partnerships with community-based organizations; and

  • 2. apply child health promotion and prevention initiatives to improve early childhood.

As part of the implementation grant, a minimum of one faculty champion was identified at each pediatric residency program, with the majority of the programs having two faculty champions involved. Faculty champions varied in their leadership roles, from director of the advocacy rotations to associate program directors and program directors, and included general pediatricians, hospitalists, and specialists. Residents were also engaged during this process, in both the NJPRAC meetings as well as the actual work with the FSCs.

The supervising regional coordinator from the DCF was crucial in fostering the partnerships with individual FSCs and attended all the in-person quarterly meetings once the partnership had been established in addition to being available for frequent check-ins with the NJPRAC leadership team. The coordinator helped the NJPRAC select the appropriate FSCs to pair with each residency program on the basis of geography (eg, proximity to residency program) as well as insight into the individual FSC’s structure, leadership, and needs.

Each FSC had a designated liaison with the residency program. This liaison varied from the individual FSC director to a designated outreach coordinator. Once the overall memorandum of understanding was established with the DCF, then each residency program developed a memorandum of understanding with the individual FSC.

The collaborative received ongoing support and guidance from two national AAP CPTI coaches. They participated in every level of planning, including our monthly teleconferences and quarterly in-person meetings, providing insight from their current leadership roles as well as previous work with other statewide collaboratives.

We held quarterly in-person meetings as well as monthly calls. Early in the implementation period, we focused on identification of evidence-based early-childhood interventions (Table 3). Each program had either implemented their intervention or had a plan to do so imminently when the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic began.

TABLE 3

Time Line of NJPRAC Partnership With FSC

Time LineActivityDescription
January 2019 Monthly call Introduced partnership with FSCs 
February 2019 Monthly call Each residency program was paired with 1 FSC 
March 2019 Quarterly in-person meeting DCF and FSC leadership provided overview of the FSC structure and resources 
April 2019 Monthly call Used project planning tool for one-on-one meetings with FSCs; started discussion on evidence-based early-childhood resources 
May 2019 Monthly call Programs reflected and shared their FSC meeting outcomes 
June 2019 Quarterly in-person meeting Individual FSC partners and DCF leadership attended; overview of early-childhood interventions provided to FSC partners as well as NJPRAC faculty leads; FSCs and NJPRAC team met in small groups and then presented to the entire group to promote sharing of ideas, best practices 
July 2019 Monthly call Shared strategies in collaboration with FSCs 
August 2019 Monthly call 2 residency programs reported a more detailed update on their progress at each meeting 
September 2019 Quarterly in-person meeting FSC leads attended; continued to work on evidence-based approaches for early-childhood interventions; started to focus on education workgroup 
October to November 2019 Monthly call Increased frequency of calls to every 2 wk; focusing on updates from FSC partnership 
December 2019 Quarterly in-person meeting FSC partners and DCF leadership attended; break-out groups with 2–3 residency programs and FSCs; focused on education workgroup for second part 
January 2020 Monthly call Updates from FSC partnerships 
February 2020 Quarterly in-person meeting FSC partners and DCF leadership attended; invited parenting advocacy group to present overview of their work; education focus (worked through education objectives surrounding insurance and special education) 
March 2020 Monthly call COVID-19 hit; FSCs closed for in-person events; started to strategize on how to maintain connection during the pandemic and quarantine 
April to May 2020 Monthly calls Virtual Ask the Docs webinars began; NJPRAC leadership met with DCF leadership (oversees FSCs); individual residency programs maintained communication with each FSC and strategized how to best help with additional resources 
June 2020 Quarterly virtual in-person meeting FSC partners and DCF leadership: shared experiences about current needs, resources, and interventions 
Time LineActivityDescription
January 2019 Monthly call Introduced partnership with FSCs 
February 2019 Monthly call Each residency program was paired with 1 FSC 
March 2019 Quarterly in-person meeting DCF and FSC leadership provided overview of the FSC structure and resources 
April 2019 Monthly call Used project planning tool for one-on-one meetings with FSCs; started discussion on evidence-based early-childhood resources 
May 2019 Monthly call Programs reflected and shared their FSC meeting outcomes 
June 2019 Quarterly in-person meeting Individual FSC partners and DCF leadership attended; overview of early-childhood interventions provided to FSC partners as well as NJPRAC faculty leads; FSCs and NJPRAC team met in small groups and then presented to the entire group to promote sharing of ideas, best practices 
July 2019 Monthly call Shared strategies in collaboration with FSCs 
August 2019 Monthly call 2 residency programs reported a more detailed update on their progress at each meeting 
September 2019 Quarterly in-person meeting FSC leads attended; continued to work on evidence-based approaches for early-childhood interventions; started to focus on education workgroup 
October to November 2019 Monthly call Increased frequency of calls to every 2 wk; focusing on updates from FSC partnership 
December 2019 Quarterly in-person meeting FSC partners and DCF leadership attended; break-out groups with 2–3 residency programs and FSCs; focused on education workgroup for second part 
January 2020 Monthly call Updates from FSC partnerships 
February 2020 Quarterly in-person meeting FSC partners and DCF leadership attended; invited parenting advocacy group to present overview of their work; education focus (worked through education objectives surrounding insurance and special education) 
March 2020 Monthly call COVID-19 hit; FSCs closed for in-person events; started to strategize on how to maintain connection during the pandemic and quarantine 
April to May 2020 Monthly calls Virtual Ask the Docs webinars began; NJPRAC leadership met with DCF leadership (oversees FSCs); individual residency programs maintained communication with each FSC and strategized how to best help with additional resources 
June 2020 Quarterly virtual in-person meeting FSC partners and DCF leadership: shared experiences about current needs, resources, and interventions 

In March 2020, a statewide quarantine was instituted, which caused the FSCs to close their doors and work remotely to help provide families with needed resources.

The NJPRAC overall struggled to maintain these relationships at first for multiple reasons, including additional clinical responsibilities for many pediatric faculties and residents. Although the NJPRAC faculty continued with monthly calls, the inability to meet with the FSC staff and families in person led to an unwanted disconnect from the pediatricians to their communities. Having a strong existing partnership with the FSC staff allowed us to reach out directly via e-mail and/or phone and use the partnership to understand the specific needs of families and communities during this crisis. By reaching out directly via e-mail and/or phone to FSC partners to assess, we were able to get a sense of what the greatest needs of families and communities might be. Overwhelmingly, the FSC partners noted fear and anxiety over COVID-19, largely revolving around the unknown, and difficulty sorting through myriad sources of information in the media.

In response to these needs, the NJPRAC leveraged our partnership with the NJAAP to develop a Virtual House Call webinar. To reach the families in the community, we first reached out to the DCF, which oversees the FSCs, and obtained a list of all FSC directors across the state. Invitations were distributed via e-mail directly to the FSC directors, who would then share the information via Facebook and other social media posts as well as e-mails to families within their communities. As the series progressed, participants in each webinar received a follow-up e-mail with resources and an invitation for the next webinar. After registering for the webinar, families were invited to submit questions on the topic in advance. These questions were then used to develop specific content for the presentation directly addressing families’ concerns. This allowed the presenters to better understand the communities’ needs and target each session in a more meaningful way.

For the first session, we surveyed our FSC partners, who then surveyed the families to obtain questions regarding COVID-19. We then created a panel of pediatricians from the NJPRAC faculty to answer these questions in a webinar to which all FSCs across the state and their families were invited to attend. Participating faculty came from multiple institution and represented primary care, hospital medicine, and infectious diseases. More than 200 FSC staff and families attended the webinar.

The success of the inaugural webinar spurred the creation of an ongoing biweekly webinar series for FSCs and their families. Additional topics were chosen on the basis of feedback from the FSCs and their families. As we developed the series, it became clear that language was a significant barrier for many families with an overwhelming need for Spanish.

There was a challenge in determining the best way to deliver the webinar in Spanish (whether to have it simultaneously translated in real time, deliver content twice at different times in each language, or translate existing recordings and distribute them). The method differed on the basis of the session. For the most part, the webinars were translated afterward and distributed to the FSCs.

As the topics evolved, we realized the topics expanded well beyond the role of a general pediatrician. Through the NJPRAC, we asked each program for suggestions on speakers on the basis of topics of concern. The NJPRAC faculty leads themselves volunteered and provided additional contacts for other specialties, such as developmental pediatrics and pediatric infectious diseases. To engage partners in other fields, we used existing relationships from the NJAAP, NJPRAC faculty contacts, and local university contacts as well as integrate lawyers, social workers, a chef, a dentist, and representatives from the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and early intervention. For example, we reached out to the law professors at our local law school, one of whom runs a medical-legal partnership and specializes in education law and a second who specializes in immigration law, as well as a dentist who has worked with the NJAAP oral health collaborative with the NJAAP.

Promotion and collaboration with FSCs and the NJAAP was essential to organizing these webinars and promoting them to families and communities. Challenges we continue to face are families who do not have access to Internet and thus are unable to participate in the webinars.

Although the original intent was for each program to employ an evidence-based early-childhood intervention in partnership with an FSC (Table 3), this work was halted because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, existing relationships with FSC leaders and the NJAAP allowed us to quickly pivot and provide up to date, reliable information and resources via webinars on the basis of community-identified needs.

Relying on our FSC partners to communicate directly with the families and their surrounding communities was essential. We quickly realized many families’ concerns were beyond the traditional scope of a pediatrician’s expertise and extended into the full spectrum of social determinants of health, including mental health, immigration concerns, education, housing, and food insecurities. We quickly engaged other partners in social work, early intervention programs, and WIC as well as lawyers, and dentists to cocreate and present webinars, creating a truly interprofessional series to address those social determinants in a way the NJPRAC faculty alone could not (Table 4). In total, faculties from five different New Jersey residency programs participated in the virtual house calls.

TABLE 4

Virtual House Call Topics and Attendance

DateTopicExperts InvolvedTotal Attendees
April 1 COVID-19: Ask the Docs Pediatricians (primary care, hospitalist, infectious disease) 222 
April 21 COVID-19–related mental health concerns Pediatricians (Primary Care, Hospitalist), Social Work 57 
April 28 Supporting children with developmental disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic Developmental pediatrician, Early Intervention program 100 
May 5 Affordable and healthy eating tips for families Pediatrician, chef, WIC director 49 
May 7 Hip Hop with a Doc Pediatrician 34 
May 19 COVID-19 and its impact on immigrant children and families Lawyers 91 
May 21 What parents need to know about COVID-19 and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children Pediatric hospitalist 84 
May 26 Maintaining oral health and nutrition during the coronavirus pandemic Pediatrician, dentist 22 
June 2 Housing, education, and public benefits in the time of COVID-19 Lawyers 51 
DateTopicExperts InvolvedTotal Attendees
April 1 COVID-19: Ask the Docs Pediatricians (primary care, hospitalist, infectious disease) 222 
April 21 COVID-19–related mental health concerns Pediatricians (Primary Care, Hospitalist), Social Work 57 
April 28 Supporting children with developmental disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic Developmental pediatrician, Early Intervention program 100 
May 5 Affordable and healthy eating tips for families Pediatrician, chef, WIC director 49 
May 7 Hip Hop with a Doc Pediatrician 34 
May 19 COVID-19 and its impact on immigrant children and families Lawyers 91 
May 21 What parents need to know about COVID-19 and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children Pediatric hospitalist 84 
May 26 Maintaining oral health and nutrition during the coronavirus pandemic Pediatrician, dentist 22 
June 2 Housing, education, and public benefits in the time of COVID-19 Lawyers 51 

This process gave us valuable insight into our families’ daily lives, concerns, and barriers to care. It also provided us as pediatricians an outlet for our own stresses because it gave us the opportunity to continue connecting with families and the community overall.

Although residents were all invited to attend these virtual sessions, given the ongoing pandemic and their clinical duties, the statewide sessions were led by faculty. Each residency program continues to work with their partner FSC on an ongoing basis, with many providing virtual sessions on parenting skills, early-childhood education, and parent support groups. In the 2019–2020 academic year, the resident involvement varied from 2 to 15 residents from an individual program. However, preliminary feedback from training programs revealed higher rates of resident participation when FSC programming was incorporated into an existing advocacy or community rotation so residents had protected time to participate in these activities. Overall, residents’ clinical obligations seemed to be the major rate-limiting step in participation.

Future outcomes assessed will include the following:

  • • total faculty and resident involvement in the collaborative (compare from the inception of the collaborative and then at regular intervals);

  • • survey of the FSC directors regarding their level of engagement with the residency program (faculty and trainees);

  • • survey of the faculty on burnout to determine if participation in collaborative helped to decrease burnout ratings; and

  • • evaluation of evidence-based interventions instituted at FSC:

    • o total number of sessions; and

    • o total number of participants.

Although we have invited trainees to our quarterly (in person and virtual) NJPRAC meetings, we have had varying attendance. For a few of the programs, resident leaders have emerged and provided a consistent presence at the collaborative meetings. One strategy to improve resident participation in the NJPRAC is to formally designate a resident champion within each program to serve as a liaison between the collaborative and their fellow residents at their own institutions. Furthermore, the collaborative will designate a faculty champion to facilitate resident participation in the NJPRAC.

In development of our community partnerships with the FSCs, commitment from the leadership of the DCF was critical. With our NJAAP already having a long-standing relationship with the DCF, both the initial discussions and the quick pivot to webinars occurred swiftly and efficiently. Giving each residency program the opportunity to partner with a specific FSC established an overall common structure to the statewide community partnership, while at the same time allowing the residency program and FSC to tailor their early-childhood intervention to the individual community. Although New Jersey is a small state, it is extraordinarily diverse and varies widely within each city and county.

Early on, we realized how crucial ongoing communication was at every level, between the individual residency program and the FSC, the residency program and the community, the residency program and the NJPRAC, and the NJPRAC and FSC and/or DCF leadership, and how crucial it was for all of these constituents to be in the same room (physically or virtually) periodically to share these experiences. Within the pandemic, communication was even more vital yet also more difficult. Flexibility became a key component, with adaptation needed quickly on the basis of feedback from FSC leadership as well as families and communities (eg, different languages, topics, etc).

A key success to the series was gathering the questions directly from the families through the registration process with an added comment box for questions in advance as well as with FSC leadership helping to obtain these questions. The content of an individual session was based on families’ questions as well as future topics. This allowed us to quickly target families’ concerns and/or fears in real time. Quickly, we realized we needed to expand our experts outside of pediatricians and include social work, lawyers, dentists, and parent advocates, providing a platform for pediatric advocates from across the state to come together in a uniform response.

Although residents were involved early on during the planning grant phase, authentic engagement of residents continues to be a challenge for many training programs. Some institutions have had some successes in including the FSC sessions as part of their required advocacy rotations and engaging resident champions who are involved in planning and leading the sessions. Several programs evaluated their community engagement work as a subject for their scholarly activity, which may encourage increased resident engagement. Other challenges that remain include the limited opportunity to visit the sites due to scheduling challenges; establishment of resident continuity, which is imperative to promote a robust learning experience; and establishment of trust within the community.

In the setting of the pandemic, resident involvement became an even larger challenge because New Jersey was an epicenter. Emergent clinical demands meant many pediatric residents were deployed to cover adult COVID-19 inpatient units. This same struggle occurred for many of our faculty leads, who expanded their roles as primary care physicians by launching telemedicine visits. For these reasons, the NJPRAC faculty coleads and national coaches took an expanded role to organize the statewide webinar series.

In the setting of the COVID-19 pandemic, the existing partnership between the NJPRAC and the FSCs was crucial in being able to develop an innovative strategy to address child health. It displayed the relationships between pediatricians and families while also reflecting the need for ongoing communication. This relationship was at the core in understanding and receiving the concerns, questions, and/or fears from families directly. In addition, it highlighted the ability and need to collaborate in an interprofessional format. Through it all, the collaborative from its inception has thrived because of collaboration with our local AAP chapter. Although we will continue to hold virtual sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic, we also hope to expand the series into potential long-term monthly activity, even after the stay-at-home restrictions are lifted, as a way to unify and address arising needs across communities throughout the state. Each residency program continues to work with their individual FSC to address local concerns and needs.

We acknowledge our NJPRAC faculty champions (Drs Katharine Clouser, Susan Mautone, Tyree Winters, Carmen Mallamaci, Siri Patel, Renuka Verma, Manuel Jimenez, Nicole Leopardi, Daniella Correa, Michael Lucas, and Ghazalah Malik); Brittany Johnson, MPH, NJPRAC program coordinator; Jeanine Donnelly, MPH, manager of the CPTI at the AAP; Jose Baldarrago, supervising regional coordinator (DCF); the FSCs; and the NJAAP for their ongoing support.

Drs Traba and Pai are the faculty coleads for the New Jersey Pediatric Residency Advocacy Collaborative (leading the efforts in partnering with the Family Success Centers and developing the webinar series) and drafted the initial manuscript; Drs Bode and Hoffman are the national coaches for the New Jersey Pediatric Residency Advocacy Collaborative (instrumental in guiding the faculty coleads and the collaborative overall in the advocacy efforts); and all authors reviewed and revised the manuscript and approved the final manuscript as submitted.

FUNDING: Supported by the Community Pediatric Training Initiative of the American Academy of Pediatrics through a grant from The Nicholson Foundation. The virtual webinar series was funded in conjunction with support from the Burke Foundation.

AAP

American Academy of Pediatrics

COVID-19

coronavirus disease 2019

CPTI

Community Pediatrics Training Initiative

DCF

New Jersey Department of Children and Families

FSC

Family Success Center

NJAAP

New Jersey Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics

NJPRAC

New Jersey Pediatric Residency Advocacy Collaborative

VP

visiting professorship

WIC

Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children

1
The Nicholson Foundation. Our mission. Available at: https://www.thenicholsonfoundation.org/. Accessed August 27, 2020
2
Advocates for Children of New Jersey. New Jersey Kids Count 2019. Available at: https://acnj.org/kids-count/new%20jersey%20kids%20count%202019/. Accessed May 31, 2020
3
National Head Start Association
.
2020 New Jersey Head Start profile. Available at: https://nhsa.app.box.com/s/ln2yxypq1ux2v5hw8bpn6l7auzstrmir/file/604132633809. Accessed May 31, 2020

Competing Interests

POTENTIAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST: The authors have indicated they have no potential conflicts of interest to disclose.

FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE: The authors have indicated they have no financial relationships relevant to this article to disclose.