Families face a series of challenges for the first six months following the birth of a child. Project DULCE (Developmental Understanding & Legal Collaboration for Everyone) provides support for families by adding a trained family specialist to the health centers where families already bring their babies for care. The DULCE Family Specialist supports families as part of the health center team, by meeting with them at the infant’s routine healthcare visits and providing home visits and telephone, email and text-messaging support.
In partnership with California First 5 commissions in Alameda, Los Angeles and Orange counties, the Children’s Service Council of Palm Beach County, Florida, and the Lamoille Valley Family Center in Vermont, seven clinic sites began implementation of DULCE in the spring of 2016. Each of the five communities is implementing DULCE in at least one clinic site.
The original Project DULCE adapted and combined elements of two existing programs: Healthy Steps and MLPB. The evidence-based Healthy Steps program added a professional with knowledge of child development to the child’s pediatric primary care team to support positive parenting through knowledge, modeling, ongoing support, referrals (when needed), optional home visits and a telephone phone line. MLPB supported families by providing legal advice, consultations, and representation to address their civil legal needs. The DULCE Family Specialist, trained by MLPB, identified legal and social needs that could have affected a child’s health and development and took action either by helping the family to advocate for themselves or by referring the family to an appropriate public health, legal, or social service agency or resource (including MLPB).
The DULCE intervention is based on the Strengthening Families Protective Factors approach to help families, drawing on and incorporating the following key components:
- The support of legal community partner invested in medical-legal partnership approaches a local Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) model to ensure that families have access to the concrete supports they need
- The Brazelton Touchpoints training to promote knowledge of parenting and child development and to strengthen collaborative parent, child and provider relationships
- Promoting social connection through city and county partners who are members of the EC-LINC network. A quality improvement process for continuous practice and program improvement in the local context.
The intervention model, based on the relationship between the DULCE Family Specialist and the family, builds upon the known trajectory of child and family development. The DULCE Family Specialists provide:
- Information on healthy child development
- Parenting support
- Connections to a wide range of existing community resources and concrete supports
Our Seven DULCE Sites
Los Angeles County, California
First 5 Los Angeles
The Children’s Clinic, Long Beach
St. John’s Well-Child & Family Center, Dr. Louis C. Frayser Health Center
Northeast Valley Health Corporation, Sun Valley
Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles
Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County