Early Relational Health Webinar Series

Join First3Years and the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP), in partnership with DFPS PEI & the Texas PN-3 Collaborative, for a 4-Part Webinar Series on Early Relational Health. Early Relational Health (ERH) describes the positive, stimulating, and nurturing early relationships that ensure the emotional security and connection that advance physical health and development, social well-being, and resilience. The first session will explore the science behind early relational health and opportunities to support infants, very young children, and their families through ERH. Sessions 2 & 3 will highlight efforts in child welfare, home visiting, child health, early education, and systems level work to integrate relational health into the fabric of their work with families.  The series will conclude with a focus on Sustaining Support and Resources for ERH through a Policy lens.


All sessions are moderated by Dr. David Willis, CSSP, and Tasha Muhammad, First3Years.


NOTE: Registration will be capped at 100 registrants. This series will be recorded and made available on our website at no cost.




Session 1: Building Resilience and Equity through Early Relational Health: The Foundation of Early Relationships, Bio-behavioral Synchrony, and Dyadic Neurodevelopment

Presented by: Dr. David Willis, Senior Fellow at Center for the Study of Social Policy & Tasha Muhammad, Professional Development Coordinator at First3Years







Session 2: Early Relational Health in the Field: Child Welfare, Home Visiting, and Child Health Applications

July 28 | 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM

Panelists: Jennifer Rodriguez, Youth Law Center/Quality Parenting Imitative & Dr. Kate Rosenblum, University of Michigan


About Jennifer Rodriguez: Jennifer Rodriguez, J.D., is Executive Director of the Youth Law Center (YLC), a national public interest law firm that has worked for 4 decades to transform foster care and juvenile justice systems so every child and youth can thrive. YLC’s advocacy aims to ensure children and youth are not only protected from harm and dangerous conditions in systems but also receive the support, opportunities and nurturing they need for healthy, productive adulthoods. Jennifer’s leadership at YLC has a special focus on advocacy that ensures youth in both child welfare and juvenile justice receive the parenting necessary to heal and thrive and live in conditions that meet their developmental and emotional needs. YLC is currently implementing the Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI), a systems change strategy to strengthen foster care by focusing policy, practice, and culture around relationships and excellent parenting for children, in over 75 jurisdictions in 10 states. As a former foster youth who spent too much of her childhood in both foster care and juvenile justice institutions, she has spent most of her life advocating for systems to be responsive to the needs of youth. Jennifer’s advocacy has resulted in significant national policy, practice and culture change around the fundamental needs of youth and formally including system involved youth as part of all policy processes. Jennifer received her J.D. from University of California, Davis, and is the proud mother of two beautiful children who teach her daily about the power of love, high expectations, and opportunities.


About Dr. Kate Rosenblum: Dr. Rosenblum is a clinical and developmental psychologist and professor of Psychiatry and Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Michigan, where she directs the Zero to Thrive (www.zerotothrive.org) and the Infant and Early Childhood Clinic.  Dr. Rosenblum is the Vice President of the Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health, a member of the Zero to Three Academy of Fellows, and a member of the Center for the Study of Social Policy’s National Early Relational Health Advisory Panel.  She has developed a series of relational health promotion and prevention programs, including the Thrive with Your Baby Clinic model implemented in pediatric practices, and the Strong Roots Programs with tailored delivery for mothers, fathers, military families, and families involved in the child welfare system.  Dr. Rosenblum has published more than 150+ peer-review articles, chapters, and reports focused on parenting and infant and early childhood mental health, with a special interest in young children who have experienced disruptions including trauma, separation and/or loss.  In these contexts, her work focuses on promoting resilience through support for early family relational health. 




Session 3: Early Relational Health in the Field: Early Childhood Education and the use of ERH to Align Early Childhood Systems

August 18 | 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM

Panelists: Junlei Li, Harvard Graduate School of Education & Janice Gruendel, Bridgeport Baby Bundle


About Junlei Li: Junlei Li serves the Saul Zaentz Chair in Early Childhood Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His research and practice focuses on understanding and supporting the work of helpers – those who serve children and families on the frontlines of education and social services.  Li studied and learned from a wide range of developmental settings with low resources but high-quality practices, including orphanages, childcare, classrooms, and community youth programs.  He developed the “Simple Interactions” approach (www.simpleinteractions.org) to help identify what ordinary people do extraordinarily well with children in everyday moments and made that the basis for promoting positive system change.  Li frequently delivers keynote presentations and workshops for national, state, and international conferences focused on improving practices, programs, and policies for children, families, and professionals, with a particular emphasis on early childhood development.  He teaches about improving human interactions and supporting adult helpers.  Li’s work is significantly influenced and inspired by the pioneering work of Fred Rogers (creator of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood).  He previously served as the Co-Director and Rita M. McGinley Professor for Early Learning and Children’s Media at the Fred Rogers Center at Saint Vincent College.












Session 4: Thinking Ahead – Sustaining Support and Resources that Promote Early Relational Health

September 8 | 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM

Panelists: Sasha Rasco, Associate Commissioner for Prevention and Early Intervention at DFPS & Andrea Payne, Prenatal to Five Advocacy Manager at TexProtects


About Sasha Rasco: Since 2013, Sasha Rasco has served as the Associate Commissioner for Prevention and Early Intervention at the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TDFPS), which oversees more than 160 community based grants to organizations providing an array of evidence-informed family support services, including positive youth development programs, individualized and group parenting education, specialized supports for fathers and military families, and evidence-based home visiting to more than 64,000 families and youth in Texas with a budget of $105 million annually. Sasha’s career also includes 14 years in the state’s Child Care Licensing program, the last two years as Associate Commissioner of Child Care Licensing, regulating over 36,000 child-care centers, homes, adoption and foster care agencies, as well as two years with the state’s Early Childhood Intervention program (IDEA Part C). Sasha holds a bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Austin’s Humanities Honors Program and a Masters of Public Affairs from UT’s Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. 


About Andrea Payne: Andrea is the Prenatal to Five Advocacy Manager for TexProtects and serves as the backbone coordinator for the Texas PN-3 Collaborative. Prior to TexProtects, Andrea was a Senior Research Associate at the Child and Family Research Partnership at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin, where she led the organization’s fatherhood work. Andrea previously worked in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors in Bogota, Colombia, and in refugee resettlement services at the International Rescue Committee in Dallas. Her work helping refugee women start home child care businesses sparked her passion for supporting caregivers, children, and families. Andrea received her M.P.A. from the Woodrow School at Princeton University and her B.S. from Georgetown University.


Earn 1.5 CEUS

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