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Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin only pediatric hospital in the nation selected to participate in 15-site Alliance for Strong Families and Communities neuroscience initiative

June 29, 2015

Program seeks to integrate established neuroscience research on the effects of toxic stress into community-based work
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin announced today that it was selected as one of 15 non-profit and non-governmental organization sites in the United States and Canada to participate in “Change in Mind: Apply Neuroscience to Revitalize Communities,” a three-year initiative of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Norlien Foundation. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is the only children’s hospital in the nation that was chosen to participate in the Change in Mind initiative.

The ultimate goal of the initiative is to better align health care and social systems with established brain science to determine if research on the effects of stress on the brain can be used to transform policies that address some of the most difficult social issues facing our communities.

“Children’s was selected because of our focus on family preservation and our work to help reverse the negative effects of adverse experiences on kids’ developing brains,” said Bob Duncan, executive vice president for Community Services at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. “Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin treats approximately 7,000 child abuse victims every year. Our goal is to reduce that number by improving and expanding prevention and intervention programs for families in need. “

As a participant in the Change in Mind initiative, Children’s will work to enhance its Strong Families, Thriving Children well-being framework to serve as a resource for policymakers on best practices for child abuse prevention, family preservation and child welfare. The Strong Families, Thriving Children approach focuses on assessing child and parent functioning and providing evidence based interventions. It serves to provide a unifying approach across Children’s wide range of family service programs, from child welfare and foster parent licensing to home visiting and counseling – all of which address the negative impacts of childhood adversity on brain development.

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin also plans to create additional capacity for evidence-based family interventions by adding new staff trained at Children’s to deliver Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT). PCIT is a research-based intervention for young children with emotional and behavioral issues that places emphasis on improving the quality of the parent-child relationship and changing parent-child interaction patterns.

By partnering with researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Children’s will work to translate neuroscience research to practice by adding components of PCIT into more family preservation programs around the region.

“The participation of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in this exciting initiative shows that there is no more uniquely qualified sector than the nonprofit sector to lead larger systems change by aligning policy, regulatory, and fiscal areas with established brain science,” said Susan Dreyfus, president and CEO of the Alliance.

The Alliance for Children and Families hopes the Change in Mind initiative will demonstrate the larger impactful role of the nonprofit sector as educator, convener, advocate and true influencer of getting appropriate systems aligned to science. The initiative will identify, support, and evaluate the processes that the 15 organizations in the U.S. and Canada will use to align established neuroscience findings, with the goal of influencing systems to impact outcomes across the life course.  

About Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is the region’s only independent health care system dedicated solely to the health and well-being of children. The hospital, with locations in Milwaukee and Neenah, Wis., is recognized as one of the leading pediatric health care centers in the United States. It is ranked in 9 specialty areas in U.S. News & World Report’s 2015-16 Best Children’s Hospitals report. Children’s provides primary care, specialty care, urgent care, emergency care, community health services, foster and adoption services, child and family counseling, child advocacy services and family resource centers. In 2013, Children’s invested more than $105 million in the community to improve the health status of children through medical care, advocacy, education and pediatric medical research. Children’s achieves its mission in part through donations from individuals, corporations and foundations and is proud to be a member of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. For more information, visit the website at

About the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities
The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities is a national organization dedicated to achieving a vision of a healthy society and strong communities for all children, adults, and families. The Alliance works for transformational change by representing and supporting its network of hundreds of nonprofit human serving organizations across North America as they translate knowledge into best practices that improve their communities. Working with and through its member network on leadership and advocacy, the Alliance strives to achieve high impact by reducing the number of people living in poverty, increasing the number of people with opportunities to live healthy lives, and increasing the number of people with access to educational and employment success. Go to for more information.
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