Network Coordinator: Devan Spellman (815) 599-8432 firstname.lastname@example.org
Family Engagement Specialist: Dannya Gomez (815) 801-4436
Address: Stephenson County Health Department
It Takes a Village: Leveraging System Improvement to Change Postpartum Outcomes
Stephenson County All Our Kids (AOK) Network is a community collaboration currently consisting of 33 service providers committed to ensuring more mothers access Postpartum Depression services so they can create a healthy bond with their baby resulting in fewer infants, babies, and children experiencing child abuse and neglect. Our collaborative work envisions a mental health system that is easy to access, navigate, and meets the needs of pregnant and parenting women. Stephenson County AOK Network recently expanded to include Carroll and Jo Daviess counties and will partner with new service providers to identify and fill gaps of services in those communities in FY23.
Stephenson County is in rural Northwest Illinois and is populated with a mix of social service providers, public workers, and low-income families. Through analyzing data and partnering with parents, we learned not all mothers know about accessible mental health services available, have self-care tools they use daily to cope with stress, or feel supported in caring for their mental health. Our data shows Stephenson County residents reported experiencing 4.8 poor mental health days out of the week. Additionally, Stephenson County’s Mental Health Provider to Patient ratio is 420 to 1.
In 2019, the Network began its comprehensive approach to changing the Postpartum system of care by identifying formal and informal mental health resources available to pregnant or parenting mothers and creating a process for agencies to refer to those services. This led to a partnership with our local health system, FHN, to implement an agreed upon policy change establishing a baseline depression screening score that triggered a mental health referral. However, due to waiting lists for formal Postpartum Depression services, moms were still not able to engage in services. Therefore, the Network established a support group to fill the gap until formal services were able to be received. At the same time, the Network was invited to participate – and become a state leader – in the national Lead the Change CQI project which involved partnering with local home visiting programs to support staff in their understanding of mental health, services available for families, comfortability talking with families regarding mental health, providing referrals, and offering home-based resources using standardized curriculum.
As a result of our comprehensive system building efforts, and the Statewide exposure of our work through the CQI project, Stephenson County AOK was approached to pilot the Moving Beyond Depression treatment program for moms engaged in home visiting. This program will create opportunities for moms in our community to access the needed Postpartum treatment in their natural setting and is the culmination of the widespread efforts of the Network. This therapeutic program is supplemental to home visiting and will allow moms to optimize their health so they can best support their child’s development.
Stephenson County AOK understanding it take a comprehensive approach to re-envision systems that fully support children 0-8 and their families. The Network will continue to partner with community organizations to understand gaps in mental health services, support programs in accessing formal and informal resources for moms they work with, and host parents at the table to improve mental health outcomes for moms and babies.
I have been an AOK community partner for over 20 years and feel the collaboration and partnerships that have developed through AOK have allowed all of our programs to better support children and families. It is a great network of partners all working together for a common goal and sharing success through making families the priority. I think AOK is very valuable and makes us stronger as a community.Beth Johnson, Director of Parent Enrichment Program