Introducing ECIN's Racial Equity Council -- A Letter from the ECIN Directors

To effectively care and advocate for children and families, we strive to be an inclusive and anti-racist organization. We are truly grateful to have such a broad spectrum of backgrounds, experiences, and expertise as part of our organization, guiding us forward.  

Just as we constantly evaluate our programs for success, we’ve been looking introspectively and asking ourselves how we can do better for the people we serve. How do we ensure that we build time into our collaborations for thinking and learning together? How do we promote a culture of openness and honesty, so we can tackle complex questions in a way that every person feels their input is welcomed and valued?

To that end, we’ve formed a strategy team—the Racial Equity Council--within our network that seeks to help ECIN become a fully-inclusive anti-racist multicultural organization. The five-member council comprised of ECIN team members meet monthly with the aim of taking a step back from the day-to-day decision-making and looking at our whole body of work through a critical lens, focusing on:

  • Normalizing conversations about implicit bias and racism

  • Developing a strategic framework, processes, and tools for the organization

  • Reflecting on a systematic approach that produces equitable opportunities and outcomes for all

These are challenging topics to tackle in a workplace, but we feel ECIN is up to the task of making racial equity an intentional priority. Our hope is that asking these tough questions will pave the way to changing the social norms both for our own organization and for others.

While we are still in the early stages of developing the council and its priorities, we wanted to take a moment to share our commitment to racial equity with you. We’ll provide additional updates in the future via this newsletter and on our website about what this effort means for our partners and stakeholders. In the meantime, if you have questions, comments, or suggestions about ECIN’s Racial Equity Council, please get in touch.

Best Regards,

Lee and Matt

ECIN Presents at...

Community Driven Solutions at Maternal & Infant Health Summit

We were honored to participate in one of the panel discussions at Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Maternal & Infant Health Summit in September. Tanya Royster, M.D., Director of the District of Columbia Department of Behavioral Health moderated the discussion: Community Driven Solutions: The Key to Sustainable Progress, featuring speakers from three community-based organizations:

  • Cherie Craft, CEO/Founding Executive Director, Smart From the Start

  • Sarah Barclay Hoffman, Assistant Director, Early Childhood Innovation Network

  • Brenda Rhodes Miller, Executive Director, DC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

The discussion focused on how communities and organizations with close ties to the communities they serve are making real, sustainable progress at improving health for children and families. The first step, the panel agreed, is to build trust through two-way open communication. Organizations that engage their communities and make adjustments based on their needs have the greatest impacts on improving health and wellness.

The summit gathered elected officials, including six mayors who are members of the African American Mayors Association, health officials and DC residents to explore strategies that will improve perinatal health and address racial disparities in birth outcomes. The hashtag #DCMaternalHealth on Twitter captures the energy from the full summit’s events, which included content for both families and stakeholders.

From Science to Action: ECIN Presents at the National Academies of Sciences

In early August, Assistant Director Sarah Barclay Hoffman was invited to share the innovative work of the Early Childhood Innovation Network at the National Academy of Sciences Health and Medicine Division, as part of the second meeting of the National Academies’ Committee on Applying Neurobiological and Socio-behavioral Sciences from Prenatal through Early Childhood Development: A Health Equity Approach

She highlighted for the committee ECIN’s guiding principles and talked about some of the network’s challenges with implementing a rapid-cycle approach based on the Frontiers of Innovation. That model, which gives ECIN the ability to conduct faster evaluations of our work, refine our theories, and test new measures quickly, is leading to early signs of successful implementation across early childhood settings.

But as a disruptive approach to community health interventions, it has also come up against challenges, including how to build authentic relationships with the communities we serve before, during, and after our programs launch and many existing institutional barriers that can delay evidence-based progress.  

Read more recent news and presentations at

Celebrating Passage of the Birth to Three for All D.C. Act

ECIN is celebrating the passage of the Birth to Three for All DC Act of 2018. Alongside community partners, we actively supported the bill and provided expert testimony about it throughout the legislative process, and were thrilled to stand alongside Councilmember Gray as the bill was passed. It includes key provisions to improve mental health services in the District of Columbia that will allow more children and families to access the support they need, including:

  • Expansion of HealthySteps to additional health clinics in Wards 5, 7 and 8

  • Expansion of early childhood mental health consultations to more child care centers serving low-income children

  • Improvements to access and quality of early learning

Read more about our policy and advocacy activities at

Events and Announcements

  • Join our next Listening Conversation!

    Listening Conversations are community conversations aimed to provide a safe haven for parents, families, and community members to discuss and define what trauma looks like in their community. This is an open platform to talk about relevant community topics and experiences, while also collaboratively developing strategies to address the needs, the mental health and the social determinants of health within the community.

 Key Principles of Listening Conversations

  • Engage in inclusive, co-learning conversations to advance the understanding and broaden the perspectives of all stakeholders, including community organizations, educators, parents, families, and others, through collective conversations and shared insights.

  • Engage in safe conversations to develop cultural competence beyond the color of skin.

  • Give participants the opportunity to discuss important issues and questions, and collectively develop tailored solutions and strategies to meet the needs of the community.

  • Overcome the stigma of mental health in the community.

  • Provide an open platform to increase ownership, accountability, and transparency within the community.

    *Information about upcoming conversations is sent out via ECIN’s listserv. To join the listserv, share potential conversation topics or if you are interested in becoming a member of the planning team, please contact Jasmine Baines.

  • Exploring Community Needs in Ward 8 - Participant Recruitment

ECIN is looking for parents and caregivers of children 5 years old and younger from Ward 8 to participate in a focus group. The purpose of the focus groups is to help us better understand the health, developmental, and social needs of children and families living in the neighborhoods of Ward 8. Parents and caregivers who choose to participate will be asked to complete one questionnaire and participate in a focus group with other parents and caregivers from their neighborhood. The focus group will last about 90 minutes and participants will receive a $20 grocery store gift card and a $10 metro card. 

Contact: Frances Chang by email or phone: (202) 643-6051 for more information. Please feel free to share with your network and community!

We want to extend a special thank you from all of us at ECIN to Anne Gunsteens, former Executive Director of the J. Willard & Alice S. Marriott Foundation. We are so grateful for your tireless dedication to supporting the children and families of metropolitan Washington, D.C. You’ve made a world of difference. Best wishes for your new adventures in retirement!