The last several months have indeed brought countless challenges for us all. However, they have also opened the door for many new opportunities for Healthi Kids’ work. A light has been shed on the importance of, and need for whole child health in our community, and our team has certainly been feeling the demand for our efforts, now more than ever. Over the last year, we have fostered new partnerships to bridge the gaps the pandemic has widened, in ways like never before, as we continue to push and strive for health equity across our region.

Below are some quick highlights that demonstrate our efforts to foster the system level changes that are needed to advance whole child health for our community; and advance our advocacy agenda. To read more about our full body of current work, check out our  full staff summary or visit the "our highlights" section of the website.


For the past six months and throughout the pandemic, we've been working to amend state regulations around child care & of school time to support kids & families: Over the past six months, the Greater Rochester After School and Summer Alliance (GRASSA) advocacy committee (co-chaired by Jenn), has partnered with the United Way Child Care Task Force, and the Early Childhood Development Initiative's advocacy committee (co-chaired by Stephanie) to ensure families have access to child care throughout the pandemic. Together, we has been working to identify out of school time provider priorities; and advocate for change. In the summer, our team identified a series of five key recommendations that were shared with the Governor and our local delegation. We leveraged our relationships, and partnership with the Network for Youth Success to address several COVID-19 regulations that were hindering provider’s ability to provide service to children and families. 


We continue to work to advance a Resident-Led Food Policy Council:  Healthi Kids partnered with City of Rochester and Foodlink to engage the community and plan a Food Policy Council in Rochester. With funding from the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge, this work builds upon Healthi Kids’ successful advocacy for the inclusion of a Food Policy Council in the city’s comprehensive plan, Rochester 2034. Resident leaders were added to the team to help guide the process, and virtual public meetings were held to get community input. In the coming months, the project team will continue to work with the community to envision the Food Policy Council’s structure and goals. 


Our PlayROCs Advocacy Committee members are pushing for the creation of an unstructured play fund: As COVID-19 hit, several businesses began reaching out to Healthi Kids staff to ask how they could support the play kit initiative. We also began to get requests across the region from school districts and other non-profits for the kits. As a result, PlayROCS advocacy committee has revisited one of our first policy levers – establishing a play fund. Healthi Kids staff has been working with local funders to see the development of an unstructured play fund is realistic and achievable. The unstructured play fund will support residents, neighborhood associations, block clubs, PTO/A’s, the faith community and other community-based partners to fund innovative approaches that promote unstructured play in neighborhoods and in schools. We are currently working with our local funding community to establish a fund that will meet the needs of residents. 


We've worked with regional partners to survey primary caregivers and providers about their experiences with Early Intervention (EI) teletherapy during COVID-19: Throughout the summer and fall, Healthi Kids worked with the S2AY Rural Health Network and the Finger Lakes Regional Early Childhood Coalition to survey parents and providers about their experiences with Early Intervention (EI) teletherapy during COVID-19. Approximately 80 providers across 11 counties and 60 parents across 5 counties responded to the survey. Healthi Kids analyzed these survey results, along with results from the Monroe County Parents Helping Parents EI parent and provider surveys, to develop recommendations on the continued use of teletherapy for EI services. Healthi Kids shared the survey results and recommendations with the NYS Bureau of Early Intervention in December.