First3Years is excited to introduce this new relational health screening tool, that was developed by The Nurture Science Program, to train parent-facing professionals to use the WECS.
The WECS can help professionals who work with families better understand behavioral problems in a new way, and provide more helpful support based on those insights through assessment of the construct of emotional connection.
In partnership with Columbia University and UNT, First3Years will be rolling this tool out across the Greater Houston area and in North Texas. This partnership lays the groundwork for making the WECS available everywhere.
Continuing reading to learn more about Dr. Welch and Dr. Frosch's involvement with First3Years.
What attracted you to the organization/Why did you get involved?
We are excited to partner with First3Years because we share their goal of supporting families to optimize child development. Understanding and supporting emotional connection between children and their parents has the power to improve family life and change developmental trajectories for the better. This partnership is a wonderful opportunity to understand what is needed to make that support available to families everywhere.
Dr. Frosch: Relationships are critically important to the health and well-being of young children and their families. I became involved with First3Years when the organization was known as the Texas Association for Infant Mental Health. I was looking for new tools to inform research and practice with infants and toddlers. I started attending Food for Thought and other training events and found the quality of the speakers and range of topics to be excellent. From there, I became endorsed as an IMH-E Mentor (Faculty/Research) and have worked with First3Years on program evaluation, training, and research efforts.
In your opinion, what is the most important work that this organization does?
First3Years does tremendously important work to support families, which also supports emotional connection. Emotional connection between children and their parents is critical for emotional well-being, physical health, and healthy development. The effects last a lifetime.
Education, outreach, and advocacy. I think First3Years is unique for its emphasis on all three of those areas.
What do you hope the organization will achieve in the near future? In the long term?
We hope First3Years will continue to do their important work, providing leadership for supporting families across Texas. In the near future, we hope they will continue to help blaze the trail in supporting emotional connection. What is learned in Texas leads the way for work across the country. In the long term, we hope that the leadership provided by First 3 Years will help make it possible for families across the country to get the support they need to strengthen emotional connection.
Dr Frosch: Sustained recognition of the importance of quality early relationships (at home, in child care settings, and in prevention and intervention settings) will help First3Years to continue positively impacting early childhood mental health. To reach that goal, I hope First3Years (1) continues to expand its training efforts, (2) delivers programming to meet the needs of infants, toddlers, and families in rural and underserved communities, and (3) continues to innovate. Initiatives like Safe Babies and the WECS relational health screening work taking place in North Texas and in Houston have the potential to create real impact in Texas and beyond.