14:41 PM

Center for Children’s Health Changes Name

New Name – Center for Community Health – Better Reflects Purpose

Center For Community Health Logo

Beyond the walls of Cook Children’s, staff members go out into the community with one goal in mind – to make our North Texas region one of the healthiest places to raise a child. To better reflect the purpose of The Center for Children’s Health, the name has been changed to Cook Children’s Center for Community Health.

“We’ve evolved so much, especially over the last 10 years, so the previous name didn’t fully encompass all we do within the center,” said Becki Hale, Assistant Vice President at the Center for Community Health. “Our work includes children, teens and adolescents, parents and families. We feel the new name also better reflects our system’s new cultural platform.”

Community Health Community outreach has been part of Cook Children’s for more than 30 years, and the center formally emerged in 2011. The strategies developed and implemented by the center are carried out by 50 staff members through different programs – all focused on fulfilling Cook Children’s Promise to improve the health and well-being of every child in our care and communities.

“All of our staff members, particularly our community health workers are our hidden gems,” Becki said. “Feeling the energy around the office, hearing the excitement in our team member’s voices when they share about the impact we’re making in the lives of these families, seeing the passion in their eyes---words sometimes just don’t do it justice, it’s a feeling, it’s connection. I am continually grateful to work alongside such a devoted group of individuals.”

The center is home to the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) which provides children’s health data to guide community programs and collaborations in our eight-county service region (Denton, Hood, Johnson, Parker, Tarrant, Wise, Grayson and Collin counties) which serves 1.2 million children ages 0 to 17.

Center For Community Health Image“We acknowledge the complexity and intersectionality of children’s health issues and the essential nature of community collaboration among a broad range of organizations,” Becki said.

With more than 600 community partnerships, the center gives families access to care including oral health, mental health, asthma, healthy lifestyles, parent support and injury prevention.

Programs such as Save a Smile, Healthy Homes Asthma Program and educational opportunities including car seat fitting stations and drowning and poison prevention provide life-changing education for children and teens. With the goal of prevention, the Build-a-Bridge program builds a protective factor around child abuse and neglect by connecting families to a medical home and helping them to understand the importance of preventive care.

Not only do they work directly with children and families, but education is provided for school nurses, social service agencies and first responders through regularly held workshops and trainings.

“It’s humbling to know how our programs and collaborations are working to improve the health and well-being of children and families,” Becki said. “And seeing firsthand how committed our staff members and community partners are to the work that we’re doing is truly inspiring. We’re so grateful that Cook Children’s has a long history of supporting community collaboration.”

By the Numbers in Fiscal Year 2022
  • 33,473 Children, families and community partners served. 
  • 812 C4CH-led events and meetings .
  • 358 Partner and community events supported. 
  • 514,096 Educational resources and prevention items distributed at a value of $652,902. 
  • 545 Community volunteers engaged in providing 4,245 hours of support at a value of $130,240. 
  • 600 Community partner organizations. 
  • 5,660 Contacts and support services provided to families by our community health workers, along with 477 community referrals for items such as food, diapers, utility and rent assistance, workforce information.

The Roadmap

Center For Community Health PhotoFor Frances Wampler, a program coordinator within the Center for Community Health, her passion for improving children’s mental health comes from personal experience. Two and a half years ago, Wampler’s nephew, 19, died by suicide, leaving her family reeling from his death. Her 14-year-old son also struggles with mental health issues.

“As a parent who has gone through the tragedy of losing a loved one and helping a child who is struggling, I never want a family to feel overwhelmed and like no one understands. I felt like I lost one of my children, and I would take that heartache away from any person I could. I don’t want that to be the end of his story. He was not the last decision he made in his life...he was so much more than that.”

Wampler leads the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Task Force. The Task Force has existed since 2017, engaging community partners to mitigate the effects of ACEs on children and preventing ongoing adversity for families in order to improve overall child wellbeing. Recognizing that mental health issues are becoming more of a trend, especially since the pandemic, the ACEs Task Force has focused on mental health and community reengagement during the past two years. They provide tools to providers such as counselor kits for those who are working with children and teens that include fidgets, coping cards and journals.

Center For Community Health PictureWampler helped create the Roadmap for Children’s Mental Health – a guide for parents and caregivers. The Roadmap includes educational videos about red flags of mental health, what to do while waiting for services and the impact of a child’s mental health on caregivers. Wampler also participates in the Raising Joy campaign at Cook Children’s, a communications initiative aimed at preventing youth suicides. When Wampler’s team dreams up ideas like the Roadmap, her role is to help it come to life with one goal in mind – to give the community tools to improve their lives.

Normalizing conversations about thoughts of suicide, even if it’s uncomfortable for families, she said, could help with prevention. Her nephew had supportive friends and family, played football in high school and had joined the military, she said, adding the family “had no idea he was feeling that way.” No one saw his suicide coming.

“I want parents to feel a strong connection to another parent going through the same thing. It is so empowering if we can get parents engaged and talking about it. There are so many people who have had the same experience, and we shouldn’t have to whisper about it.”