Allentown Children’s Health Improvement Project (ACHIP)
With the redevelopment of downtown Allentown and the growth of the Allentown Promise Neighborhood (a subsidiary of Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley), the community conversation is focused on supporting those living in the neighborhoods surrounding the Neighborhood Improvement Zone.
ACHIP is a home visiting program based in downtown Allentown that aims to help at-risk families with children ages 0-5 years old. The program is part of a collaborative effort between Lehigh Valley Children’s Hospital, Lehigh Valley Heath Network’s (LVHN) Department of Community Health and Allentown Promise Neighborhood. Funding for the initial pilot demonstration of this program is provided by the Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust.
ACHIP is one of the core strategies for the Children’s Hospital and Department of Community Health for improving the health and resilience of families and young children in the community. Using a protective factors and wellness model, the team works together to connect families to the resources they need, including community-based organizations, medical resources, housing and food assistance, and mental and behavioral health services, in order to build on existing family strengths. The team also works with families to support skill building, including parenting skills and healthy child development. Over 100 families enrolled in the program in the first year. Learn about other initiatives and collaborations in the Department of Community Health. Review our ACHIP First Year Report.
What are the goals of the program?
ACHIP has three specific aims. The first is to implement a collective impact approach to enhance the health and well-being of children and their families. In this approach, the ACHIP team collaborates with other agencies and sectors who are all working to improve family health.
The second aim is for the program to demonstrate how this proactive approach works to improve the health of children and their families. Using a developmental evaluation framework, the team engages in continual strategic learning to test, adapt and reflect on the intervention as we develop and assemble core components of the program. We are learning from the families served by the program about how to best meet their needs.
The third aim is to show that Community Health Workers (CHWs) are an effective staff model for assisting children and families within a specific community. CHWs are unique because they are members of the communities they serve and can help in ways that traditional medical staff cannot. CHWs identify barriers to care and struggles in the home, and work with the family to overcome them by connecting the family to community resources.
The ACHIP-APN Partnership
Lehigh Valley Children’s Hospital and the LVHN’s Department of Community Health have developed a collaborative partnership with Allentown Promise Neighborhood (APN) to more effectively build a trusting relationship with the community and meet the needs of families, with the goal of building a thriving community. The partnership builds on the strengths of both organizations – LVHN in providing quality care and community-based services, APN in community organizing and community engagement.
These skill sets are synergistic and complementary to one another and allow for more holistic and comprehensive services. The partnership is then guided by core principles that align with both organizations’ missions. These principles include: creating equity (addressing power dynamics), creating a sense of belonging, being place-based, and being solution-focused.
Initial evidence of the partnership can be seen in the APN and ACHIP teams being co-located in a downtown Allentown office as well as the two team co-leading a Community Empowerment Series to have on-going dialogue with the families living in Allentown.
Who is eligible for ACHIP services?
Families with young children (birth to age 5) and pregnant women who live in the Allentown Promise Neighborhood or larger Neighborhood Improvement Zone.