As Chief Program Officer for Common Ground Health, Dina Faticone oversees the Rochester-based agency’s health improvement programs including community engagement, education, and advocacy for children and historically underserved populations. Common Ground Health launched the Healthi Kids initiative in 2008 to improve children’s lives in the Rochester and Finger Lakes region. Faticone joined the organization in 2012, and in 2018, led efforts to transform Healthi Kids from a childhood healthy weight initiative to its current focus on whole child health. Healthi Kids partners with families, residents and community organizations to advocate for policy, systems, and environmental change to improve outcomes for children from birth to age eight.
“We take a whole child approach to caring for children’s physical, social/emotional, and mental health, as well as their cognitive development. If we try to focus on just one of these, it’s very hard to move the needle, so we have to look at children and their families holistically. As a convener and long-time supporter of ROC the Future Alliance (RTFA), we are thrilled to be able to share our expertise with the whole child initiative, including centering parents and families in the work and ensuring we look at children as whole people rather than focusing on only one or two aspects of their well-being,” said Faticone.
Change Moves at the Speed of Trust
Faticone believes the best way to achieve better outcomes for children and families in Rochester is to build relationships across the community. “The foundational work of building trust between parents/children and the systems that serve them such as health care, education, and human services will lead to better long-term outcomes. If we skip the relationship building and meaningful engagement of parents/families and systems partners, we will continue to do more of the same and fail to achieve our goals.”
That’s why Healthi Kids has had such a strong focus on partnering with parents and residents in the Greater Rochester area to co-create solutions. Faticone played a significant role in helping ROC the Future Alliance design strategies to embed parents in our work. At RTFA’s Community Convening in October, we saw this come to life. It’s one of many examples of RTFA’s Whole Child Initiative embedding parents in the process, providing a space for meaningful engagements where they are co-creating action plans to solve systemic problems. “By pairing the lived experience of parents with the subject matter expertise of systems partners, together we’ll move further, faster,” said Faticone.
Keeping Equity at the Center of Systems Change
Faticone believes systems are designed to achieve exactly the results that they get. One way to center equity in this work is to consult with the experts who are the end users of the systems. “When we talk about systems change, that can mean many things to many people, so we have to consider multiple perspectives” she said.
“Equally important to centering parent and family voice is ensuring that we are looking at data to inform our decision making,” explained Faticone. “And we have to look at those data through various lenses. When we don’t use data appropriately, we see systems changes that benefit one group but fail to deliver the same positive results for other groups. Leaders within these systems don’t always see the data in ways that might reveal disparities. They need to drill down to make sure equity is at the center of policy and practice decisions, so we are improving systems for all, not just some, of our kids.”
Collective Impact – Strength in Numbers
ROC the Future Alliance is a collective impact initiative that brings together a coalition of partners and parents working towards a shared vision of academic and social-emotional success for every child. We recognize that no one individual or business can accomplish significant change alone — which is why we work with funders, providers, staff members and Parent/Family Partners to achieve a common goal.
For Faticone, partnering with RTFA presents a tremendous opportunity to amplify the work her Healthi Kids team is engaged in, and bring even more new partners into the mix. “I see RTFA as a way to bring everybody who’s working on whole child health in our community under the same tent. There are a lot of different initiatives in Rochester, and we are stronger together under the collective impact umbrella of ROC the Future.”
“The whole child initiative is really our opportunity as a community to get it right for kids and families, now and in the future. We’re working deliberately in partnership with parents and the systems that serve the community to make sure our kids have the future they deserve. There’s an African proverb that has become my motto for the work we do in this space:
‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’
This quote exemplifies the collective impact we will make together with ROC the Future’s Whole Child Initiative.”