I am a child psychiatrist, and when I leave home to see my patients, my son Tiago understands that I have to go and help them feel better. But my trip to Yale University was a little more difficult to explain; the focus was much broader: “Integrating Interventions for Early Childhood Development (ECD) in Brazil.”
ECD is a global health challenge that requires multi-disciplinary collaborations. Our delegation is composed of professionals from the public sector, academia, and NGOs. At the beginning of our visit we set two main goals: learn how to bridge policy and practice in ECD; and how to work together in public and private partnerships. After just the first day of sessions, I left with a greater understanding about these issues. And hearing about the great work done at Yale inspired me to continue my work back home!
Then we spent time with Minding the Baby Training Institute staff to learn how they help needy families to improve parenting, parent-child and family relationships, and child development. The training program presented us with new concepts such as mentalization theory and reflective functioning – tools that we can take home to help us build our own parenting program. The challenge, however, will be to adapt this tool in a city with 860,000 children under 3 years old and an average of 175,000 births per year.
Over the course of the week, invaluable bonds were formed. Maybe GHLI was the spark that we needed to spur collaboration, or maybe we all needed to benefit from learning and practicing the reflective functioning approach, but we all returned home with a renewed energy to continue to work towards improved ECD in São Paulo.