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Tools to Empower Adolescent Moms, or TEAM, is a new Child Development initiative of the Illinois Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics (ICAAP). The American Academy of Pediatrics Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children and Adolescents is the foundation for this work, as is the Illinois Promoting Resiliency of Trauma-exposed Communities Together (PROTECT) project.

Bright Futures (BF) is the national standard of care for pediatric patients and is comprehensive in its approach to meet all the health and development needs of children birth through 21. While BF is familiar to pediatric medical care providers, many still need help via training and coaching in order to implement it in practice. BF is not as well known to family physicians, obstetricians/gynecologists, and service providers at other agencies that provide early education, home visiting, social service, etc.. With training and coaching BF can give them a framework to improve their services that is consistent with medical homes. When all community providers follow BF, services are better coordinated, duplication is reduced, and the community is able to provide services to meet all the needs of the child or adolescent.

PROTECT, which is funded by the U.S. Maternal and Child Health Bureau, has taught ICAAP that adolescent moms and their children are particularly vulnerable to adverse childhood experiences, trauma, toxic stress, and violence, all of which contribute to unhealthy brain development for both the moms and their children. Providers in health care and other settings can use this knowledge to improve services. This knowledge has also informed our decision to attend to the creation of people-safe places, for learning and service delivery.

Working within existing systems of care and with a wide range of service providers, TEAM will promote education interventions and promote workable protocols to provide comprehensive care for adolescent moms and their children with a focus on wellness issues unique to this population.

TEAM has 3 goals to enable providers, families, and the community to enhance the healthy development of children and their caregiver(s):

1. To focus on the ability of all service providers (medical, social service, etc.) to work together to enhance the wellness of the family including both the child(ren) and parents, TEAM will provide consistent training, messaging, and coaching as reflected in the Bright Futures guidelines

2. Enable parents to positively impact the healthy development of the child(ren), TEAM will provide information, messaging, coaching that encourages effective parenting.

3. Work with communities to create People safe Places (PSP) which are environments (public and private) that consistently encourage well-being for adolescent parents, their families, and the community as a whole. Within a PSP, all staff and volunteers, not just clinicians or those “in charge,” are empowered to notice and intervene when they see examples of unhelpful or inappropriate discipline or verbal/physical exchanges that generate concern.

View the TEAM overview here.