WE CARE

When I was a Fellow at the Harriet Lane Clinic in East Baltimore, a safety-net pediatric clinic, the one thing we weren’t doing routinely was identifying and trying to address the social factors that drive health. I decided to change that. I had no idea that nearly 20 years later, WE CARE would be used in clinics across the country, be cited by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the American Academy of Pediatrics, and be creating real social change for patients and families."

About WE CARE

The Child Health Equity Center has conducted extensive groundwork to develop, implement, and test the WE CARE screening tool, a family-centered system for screening and referral to address adverse social determinants of health in clinics nationwide.

In 2005, Founding Director Arvin Garg, MD, MPH, developed an easy-to-use screening tool called WE CARE (Well Childcare visit, Evaluation, Community Resources, Advocacy, Referral, Education) to help identify patients’ needs.

The WE CARE screening tool relies on existing clinical processes and infrastructure and social service resources, thereby making implementation, dissemination, and sustainability feasible.

WE CARE intervention includes:

  • A brief training of the staff/clinical team
  • Administration of a short screening tool for patients
  • Provider/staff access to a physical or electronic resource directory containing community-resource listings
  • Provider/staff referrals to community resources for patients with unmet social needs
Three kids jumping up in a forest, cropped in the shape of a flower

WE CARE by the Numbers

7,500 +

patients screened

1,568 +

referrals made to community resources

3,690 +

needs identified

34 +

clinics implemented screening

The Impact of WE CARE  

We’re proud to share that WE CARE has positively impacted thousands of patients and families in dozens of clinics nationwide.

Kids laying in Grass

WE CARE Screening Tool Recognition

WE CARE interventions has received nationwide recognition from research, healthcare, and policy leaders:

  • Two prominent national organizations recognized WE CARE as an evidence-based intervention
  • Four R01-level WE CARE research projects have been funded by the National Institutes of Health
  • Seven manuscripts were published disseminating results from these studies
  • 657 citations of WE CARE manuscripts have appeared in peer-reviewed journal articles

The WE CARE Journey

Since 2007, WE CARE has exerted a significant, sustained, and powerful influence on the field of social determinants of health interventional research.

Our work is simultaneously informing child health policy and actively advancing the evidence base for the impact of social determinants of health screening and referral systems on the health and well-being of children and adults.

While we have made significant progress, we are continually learning about new ways to optimize the intervention so that it better supports our patients and community.

Our long-term goal is to continue refining, optimizing, implementing, evaluating, and disseminating an evidence-based WE CARE intervention that systematically addresses adverse social determinants of health in the healthcare setting and beyond.

To continue this work, we need your help.

A doctor holds a pen to her chin as she looks at papers in a folio case in her other hand
Two smiling girls embrace in a park outside

Where is the WE CARE Screening Tool Used?

  • Inpatient Settings
  • Outpatient Settings
  • Community health centers
  • Medicaid Accountable Care Organizations
  • Community-based Organizations
  • Other healthcare settings

Why Does WE CARE Work?

WE CARE screening tool has succeeded because the model is simple, easy to implement and sustain, and it works — which makes patients and providers happy.

Common themes from clinical staff focus groups revealed that WE CARE is “simple to do” and that it is “much better than the previous standard of care.” Providers commented that they are “catching more families who have basic needs.”

As we continue expanding WE CARE to new clinics, it is critically important that we have adequate funding to support effective, sustainable implementation and evaluation.

If you are interested in transforming the lives of patients and families, please support our WE CARE work.

A baby with pigtails laying on her belly making a playful face
A smiling child's smiling parents and doctor lean in close to talk to her
A baby crawling on grass outside, surrounded by plastic multi-colored balls

WE CARE Lessons Learned

In the initial WE CARE pilot randomized controlled trial in a large primary care clinic (n=200), compared with controls, parents who had WE CARE received more referrals (51% vs. 12%) and contacted more community resources (20% vs. 2%) — most commonly for job training, food, and childcare.

Our team then tested the effectiveness of WE CARE within a cluster randomized controlled trial of eight pediatric primary care clinics in community health centers in Boston, Massachusetts. A markedly higher proportion of WE CARE caregivers received at least one referral for an adverse social determinant of health compared with control caregivers (70% vs. 7%).

Referrals led to the increased receipt of community resources. After six months (n=271), there was a 15% absolute difference in receipt of new resources between experimental and control parents (39% vs. 24%).

WE CARE parents had significantly greater odds of being enrolled in fuel assistance, childcare, and job training, and lower odds of being in a homeless shelter.

Based on these results, the American Academy of Pediatrics has cited WE CARE as an evidence-based social determinants of health intervention.

Our team is further expanding the use of WE CARE into pediatric outpatient clinical settings, including more than 20 outpatient pediatric primary care practices, hematology clinics that care for children with sickle cell anemia, and neonatal intensive care units.

WE CARE Project Timeline

2007-2009

The first WE CARE project launched in Baltimore, Maryland.2007

2009-2014

Addressing Low-Income Families’ Basic Social Needs at Pediatric Visits (a National Institutes of Health K99/R00) is funded, allowing for the expansion of WE CARE to clinics in Boston, Massachusetts.2007

2014–2019

Reducing Socioeconomic Disparities in Health at Pediatric Visits (a National Institutes of Health R01) is funded, allowing for further expansion of WE CARE into clinics in the Greater Boston, Massachusetts area.2007

2017–2023

Implementing an Intervention to Address Social Determinants of Health in Pediatric Practices (a National Institutes of Health R01) is funded, allowing WE CARE to expand to clinics across the US.2007

2019–2022

Understanding and Addressing the Social Determinants of Health for Families of Children with Sickle Cell Anemia within Pediatric Hematology (a National Institutes of Health R01) is funded, allowing WE CARE to expand for the first time beyond primary care to pediatric subspecialty clinics on the East Coast.2007

2022–2027

Improving Chronic Disease Inequities by Implementing a Social Care Intervention into Primary Care Using an Antiracism Lens (a National Institutes of Health R01) is under review; if funded, it will allow a new antiracism-focused iteration of WE CARE to be rolled out to Family Medicine clinics in Central Massachusetts.2007
Happy kids group playing in the playground in school.
Two funny and messy baby brothers playing together in kids room

Implement WE CARE

Parties interested in implementing WE CARE in their facility can complete the form below to gain access to WE CARE materials and set up a consultation with us.

Rani Jones, BS (She/Her)

Project Coordinator

Rani Jones is the current Project Coordinator for the Child Health Equity Center. She graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in 2023 with her B.S. in Biochemistry and Biophysics, and a minor in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience. During her time as an undergraduate, she spent a lot of time volunteering with children in the New York capital region. She is very interested in public health and plans to continue her education at RPI to pursue her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biophysics in the Fall.
Rani_headshot

Rani Jones, BS (She/Her)

Project Coordinator

Rani Jones is the current Project Coordinator for the Child Health Equity Center. She graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in 2023 with her B.S. in Biochemistry and Biophysics, and a minor in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience. During her time as an undergraduate, she spent a lot of time volunteering with children in the New York capital region. She is very interested in public health and plans to continue her education at RPI to pursue her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biophysics in the Fall.

Maia Archer, BA (She/Her)

Career path intern

Maia Archer graduated from Boston University with her B.A. in Biology, double minoring in French and Public Health. She is an intern for the Child Health Equity Center primarily assisting with the Pilot Lyft Transportation Program and Food is Medicine Program. Maia will be continuing her academic journey at George Washington University to receive her Masters in Public Health with a concentration in Health Promotion.

Child Health Equity Center

Maia Archer, BA (She/Her)

Career PATH Intern

Maia Archer graduated from Boston University with her B.A. in Biology, double minoring in French and Public Health. She is an intern for the Child Health Equity Center primarily assisting with the Pilot Lyft Transportation Program and Food is Medicine Program. Maia will be continuing her academic journey at George Washington University to receive her Masters in Public Health with a concentration in Health Promotion.

Monick Powell, C-TAGME (She/Her)

Fellowship Coordinator

Monick Powell, C-TAGME, is the Pediatric Training Program Coordinator at UMass Chan Medical School and UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center. She acts as Coordinator for the Program to Advance Training in Child Health Equity (PATH) Fellowship. She was born in Puerto Rico, grew up in New York, and has been working at UMass since 2004 in various positions in Pediatrics. Ms. Powell established and leads the institutional Training Programs Coordinator Advisory Committee.

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Monick Powell, C-TAGME (She/Her)

Fellowship Coordinator

Monick Powell, C-TAGME, is the Pediatric Training Program Coordinator at UMass Chan Medical School and UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center. She acts as Coordinator for the Program to Advance Training in Child Health Equity (PATH) Fellowship. She was born in Puerto Rico, grew up in New York, and has been working at UMass since 2004 in various positions in Pediatrics. Ms. Powell established and leads the institutional Training Programs Coordinator Advisory Committee.

Larry Rhein, MD, MPH (He/Him)

Advisor

Larry Rhein, MD, MPH, joined the faculty at UMass Chan Medical School in June 2016. He is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics. Dr. Rhein is board-certified in both pediatric pulmonology and neonatology. He is a health services researcher with a focus on respiratory outcomes of neonatal lung disease and is a national expert on lung disease of prematurity. Dr. Rhein runs a research program focused on optimizing respiratory status in infants with severe lung diseases, particularly infants who are technology- or oxygen-dependent. He has pioneered several protocols for safe outpatient oxygen weaning, which allows infants to be discharged from the neonatal intensive care unit much earlier. Through clinical trials and analysis of physiological data, Dr. Rhein hopes to develop new strategies to prevent and treat neonatal and pediatric lung disease.

Photo of Dr. Larry Rhein, MD, MPH

Larry Rhein, MD, MPH (He/Him)

Advisor

Larry Rhein, MD, MPH, joined the faculty at UMass Chan Medical School in June 2016. He is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics. Dr. Rhein is board-certified in both pediatric pulmonology and neonatology. He is a health services researcher with a focus on respiratory outcomes of neonatal lung disease and is a national expert on lung disease of prematurity. Dr. Rhein runs a research program focused on optimizing respiratory status in infants with severe lung diseases, particularly infants who are technology- or oxygen-dependent. He has pioneered several protocols for safe outpatient oxygen weaning, which allows infants to be discharged from the neonatal intensive care unit much earlier. Through clinical trials and analysis of physiological data, Dr. Rhein hopes to develop new strategies to prevent and treat neonatal and pediatric lung disease.

Michelle Trivedi, MD, MPH (She/Her)

Child Health Equity Center CORE FACULTY

Michelle Trivedi, MD, MPH, is a pediatric pulmonologist and clinician-scientist who studies sustainable community-based interventions that seek to improve asthma health for children. She is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Population Quantitative Health Sciences at UMass Chan Medical School. Dr. Trivedi is Principal Investigator on a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded clinical trial of Asthma Link, a clinic-school partnership that delivers school-supervised asthma therapy to children with poorly controlled asthma in 52 schools across Massachusetts. 

 

With a focus on sustainable, pragmatic interventions, she has developed a novel methodology for stakeholder engagement, grounded in implementation science, that elicits input from children, parents, pediatricians, community and systems-level stakeholders (payors, legislators, and public health officials) in order to adapt evidence-based interventions to real-world settings. The ultimate goal of this methodology and her work is to develop interventions that produce positive public and population health impact, particularly for historically marginalized populations.

Photo of Dr. Michelle Trivedi

Michelle Trivedi, MD, MPH (She/Her)

Child Health Equity Center CORE FACULTY

Michelle Trivedi, MD, MPH, is a pediatric pulmonologist and clinician-scientist who studies sustainable community-based interventions that seek to improve asthma health for children. She is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Population Quantitative Health Sciences at UMass Chan Medical School. Dr. Trivedi is Principal Investigator on a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded clinical trial of Asthma Link, a clinic-school partnership that delivers school-supervised asthma therapy to children with poorly controlled asthma in 52 schools across Massachusetts. 

With a focus on sustainable, pragmatic interventions, she has developed a novel methodology for stakeholder engagement, grounded in implementation science, that elicits input from children, parents, pediatricians, community and systems-level stakeholders (payors, legislators, and public health officials) in order to adapt evidence-based interventions to real-world settings. The ultimate goal of this methodology and her work is to develop interventions that produce positive public and population health impact, particularly for historically marginalized populations.

Meg Parker, MD, MPH (She/Her)

Child Health Equity Center CORE FACULTY

Meg Parker, MD, MPH, is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Chief of the Division of Neonatology at UMass Chan Medical School and UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center. Dr. Parker is a neonatal health services researcher and holds several federal and foundation grants in the area of social disparities in preterm birth outcomes; she has a particular interest in safe sleep and breastfeeding. 

Dr. Parker is also an expert in multi-site implementation science and is the Co-Chair of the Neonatal Quality Improvement Collaborative of Massachusetts and an Improvement Advisor from the Institute of Healthcare Improvement. She has led multi-site NICU quality improvements focused on breastfeeding and family engagement. Dr. Parker applies a health equity lens to her local and multisite quality improvement projects.

Photo of Dr. Meg Parker

Meg Parker, MD, MPH (She/Her)

Child Health Equity Center CORE FACULTY

Meg Parker, MD, MPH, is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Chief of the Division of Neonatology at UMass Chan Medical School and UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center. Dr. Parker is a neonatal health services researcher and holds several federal and foundation grants in the area of social disparities in preterm birth outcomes; she has a particular interest in safe sleep and breastfeeding. 

Dr. Parker is also an expert in multi-site implementation science and is the Co-Chair of the Neonatal Quality Improvement Collaborative of Massachusetts and an Improvement Advisor from the Institute of Healthcare Improvement. She has led multi-site NICU quality improvements focused on breastfeeding and family engagement. Dr. Parker applies a health equity lens to her local and multisite quality improvement projects.

Heather Forkey, MD (She/Her)

Child Health Equity Center CORE FACULTY

Heather Forkey, MD, is a pediatrician and a Professor of Pediatrics at the UMass Chan Medical School. She also directs the Child Protection Program and Foster Children Evaluation Service (FaCES) of the UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center. Dr. Forkey is particularly interested in meeting the health and developmental needs of children who have experienced trauma. In collaboration with colleagues, she has trained thousands of professionals and parents about the impacts of childhood trauma and has developed innovative resources to make that work easier. She published the first textbook on trauma-informed care for pediatrics and presents nationally and internationally on the topic. Dr. Forkey also serves in leadership roles for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Photo of Dr. Heather Forkey

Heather Forkey, MD (She/Her)

Child Health Equity Center CORE FACULTY

Heather Forkey, MD, is a pediatrician and a Professor of Pediatrics at the UMass Chan Medical School. She also directs the Child Protection Program and Foster Children Evaluation Service (FaCES) of the UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center. Dr. Forkey is particularly interested in meeting the health and developmental needs of children who have experienced trauma. In collaboration with colleagues, she has trained thousands of professionals and parents about the impacts of childhood trauma and has developed innovative resources to make that work easier. She published the first textbook on trauma-informed care for pediatrics and presents nationally and internationally on the topic. Dr. Forkey also serves in leadership roles for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Nisha Fahey, DO, MSc (She/Her)

Child Health Equity Center CORE FACULTY

Nisha Fahey, DO, MSc, is an Assistant Professor at UMass Chan Medical School in the Division of General Pediatrics and a faculty member in the Child Health Equity Center with a focus on global health. Dr. Fahey leads an institutional collaboration with an academic tertiary care center in rural western India focused on research capacity building and community engagement to identify and address barriers to care and health inequities in rural community settings. Through this collaboration, she has led the implementation of several research projects in India; recent projects have focused on maternal-child health and social determinants of health. In addition, she is passionate about exploring how digital technologies can be used to reduce health inequities. Her current research focuses on developing ways to promote the practice of Kangaroo Mother Care among mother-neonate dyads across a variety of settings.

Photo of Dr. Nisha Fahey

Nisha Fahey, DO, MSc (She/Her)

Child Health Equity Center CORE FACULTY

Nisha Fahey, DO, MSc, is an Assistant Professor at UMass Chan Medical School in the Division of General Pediatrics and a faculty member in the Child Health Equity Center with a focus on global health. Dr. Fahey leads an institutional collaboration with an academic tertiary care center in rural western India focused on research capacity building and community engagement to identify and address barriers to care and health inequities in rural community settings. Through this collaboration, she has led the implementation of several research projects in India; recent projects have focused on maternal-child health and social determinants of health. In addition, she is passionate about exploring how digital technologies can be used to reduce health inequities. Her current research focuses on developing ways to promote the practice of Kangaroo Mother Care among mother-neonate dyads across a variety of settings.

Sarabeth Broder-Fingert, MD, MPH (She/Her)

Child Health Equity Center CORE FACULTY

Sarabeth Broder-Fingert, MD, MPH, is a pediatrician and implementation scientist who studies early diagnosis and treatment for autistic children and children with other developmental, behavioral, and/or mental health disorders. She is Vice Chair for Clinical Research in Pediatrics and Associate Director for Research at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center at UMass Chan Medical School. Dr. Broder-Fingert is Principal Investigator on multiple National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded awards focused on testing and/or evaluating the implementation of autism interventions. Dr. Broder-Fingert has published more than 60 peer-reviewed manuscripts and serves as an editor for the Autism and Hospital Pediatrics journals.

Photo of Dr. Sarabeth Broder-Fingert

Sarabeth Broder-Fingert, MD, MPH (She/Her)

Child Health Equity Center CORE FACULTY

Sarabeth Broder-Fingert, MD, MPH, is a pediatrician and implementation scientist who studies early diagnosis and treatment for autistic children and children with other developmental, behavioral, and/or mental health disorders. She is Vice Chair for Clinical Research in Pediatrics and Associate Director for Research at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center at UMass Chan Medical School. Dr. Broder-Fingert is Principal Investigator on multiple National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded awards focused on testing and/or evaluating the implementation of autism interventions. Dr. Broder-Fingert has published more than 60 peer-reviewed manuscripts and serves as an editor for the Autism and Hospital Pediatrics journals.

Alison LeBlanc, MS, PMP (She/Her)

Child Health Equity Center EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Alison LeBlanc, MS, PMP, is an experienced development strategist and child health equity advocate with over a decade of experience designing and implementing initiatives to address adverse social determinants of health. Ms. LeBlanc subscribes to the philosophy “nothing about us without us.” To this end, she has extensive experience fostering bidirectional community partnerships and coalition building. She also has a strong track record of building sustainable centers of excellence in safety-net healthcare systems. 

As a disability and chronic disease self-advocate, Ms. LeBlanc has spent years redefining what it means to promote inclusivity and belonging and is dedicated to continually raising the bar for herself and her colleagues. Ms. LeBlanc completed her undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University and completed her master’s in communications at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

Photo of Alison LeBlanc, MS, PMP

Alison LeBlanc, MS, PMP (She/Her)

Child Health Equity Center EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Alison LeBlanc, MS, PMP, is an experienced development strategist and child health equity advocate with over a decade of experience designing and implementing initiatives to address adverse social determinants of health. Ms. LeBlanc subscribes to the philosophy “nothing about us without us.” To this end, she has extensive experience fostering bidirectional community partnerships and coalition building. She also has a strong track record of building sustainable centers of excellence in safety-net healthcare systems. 

As a disability and chronic disease self-advocate, Ms. LeBlanc has spent years redefining what it means to promote inclusivity and belonging and is dedicated to continually raising the bar for herself and her colleagues. Ms. LeBlanc completed her undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University and completed her master’s in communications at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

Arvin Garg, MD, MPH (He/Him)

Child Health Equity Center FOUNDING DIRECTOR

Arvin Garg, MD, MPH, is a general pediatrician and clinician-scientist who studies addressing unmet social needs through family-centered healthcare system-based interventions. He is the Founding Director of the Child Health Equity Center and the Founding Program Director of the Program to Advance Training in Child Health Equity (PATH) Fellowship. He is currently a Professor of Pediatrics and Vice Chair of Health Equity at UMass Chan Medical School and UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center. Dr. Garg is also Associate Chief Quality Officer for Health Equity for UMass Memorial Health

Since 2009, Dr. Garg has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and has received extramural funding from private foundations. He is Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator on multiple NIH-funded awards focused on testing and/or evaluating the implementation of interventions addressing social needs. He has published over 80 peer-reviewed manuscripts and serves as Associate Editor for the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. He was recently the Chair of the Health Care Delivery Committee for the Academic Pediatric Association.

Photo of Dr. Arvin Garg

Arvin Garg, MD, MPH (He/Him)

Child Health Equity Center FOUNDING DIRECTOR

Arvin Garg, MD, MPH, is a general pediatrician and clinician-scientist who studies addressing unmet social needs through family-centered healthcare system-based interventions. He is the Founding Director of the Child Health Equity Center and the Founding Program Director of the Program to Advance Training in Child Health Equity (PATH) Fellowship. He is currently a Professor of Pediatrics and Vice Chair of Health Equity at UMass Chan Medical School and UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center. Dr. Garg is also Associate Chief Quality Officer for Health Equity for UMass Memorial Health. 

Since 2009, Dr. Garg has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and has received extramural funding from private foundations. He is Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator on multiple NIH-funded awards focused on testing and/or evaluating the implementation of interventions addressing social needs. He has published over 80 peer-reviewed manuscripts and serves as Associate Editor for the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. He was recently the Chair of the Health Care Delivery Committee for the Academic Pediatric Association.