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Collaborative aims to improve child health by training adults who work with kids

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A dozen Rochester area organizations are forming a collaborative effort aimed at improving the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional health of children from birth to 8 years.

Staffed by psychiatrists and pediatricians at the University of Rochester to experts from RIT, Head Start, the United Way, and others, the effort will start with a partnership with seven schools in the city of Rochester.

The non-profit Children's Institute is the lead agency for the initiative.  Elizabeth Delvaney, director of the institute's Social and Emotional Learning Center, says the idea is to expand the knowledge of adults who work with children in all kinds of settings, from schools to mental health clinics.

"Training really isn't effective in changing a practice. It's really about how do we build knowledge, build understanding around child development, around social and emotional health, around physical health, and a connection between those things for pretty much anyone who works in a building and supports children."

The collaborative is expected to start working with the first seven schools in the fall.  Delvaney says the results won't be apparent right away.

"It really takes three to five years for real deep change to happen in a school building, especially when you're talking about things like changing staff practice or changing the culture of a school to support whole child health."

Funding for the program will come from the Greater Rochester Health Foundation.

Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two-decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York, to Miami, Florida.