The Community Access to Child Health (CATCH) Program works by supporting pediatricians who are directly involved in community efforts that improve children's access to health care. CATCH assists these clinicians in building community programs through technical consultation and/or with funds for planning grants to increase pediatric involvement in community-based activities. CATCH has been administered by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) since 1989 with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJ) until 1996.
Given the current political context emphasizing increased local responsibility and accountability for health and other human services, there is a need to better understand the mechanisms through which community leadership development strategies are effective. To that end, the WCHPC was charged with conducting a national evaluation of the CATCH program.
The goals of the evaluation were to:
- Identify, retrospectively, the achievements of CATCH
- Identify the characteristics of successful and unsuccessful elements of the program
A history of the program was compiled and a series of case studies at 12 sites across the country conducted to learn more about the community context before the CATCH program, project activities and how they emerged, and the role of the AAP in the development of these community initiatives. Data collection efforts also included surveys of several hundred pediatricians, and key informant interviews.
The evaluation found that:
- CATCH effectively engages the active involvement of pediatricians in their communities.
- Early exposure to and direct experience in the community provided by CATCH is pivotal in pediatricians' education and careers.
- Pediatricians who are well established in their practices are most able to dedicate attention and time to communities.
- Relationships among public health professionals and agencies, as well as peer support, are all crucial to the success of the CATCH activities.
- Funding for the CATCH initiative provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation was important in focusing attention to community pediatrics within the AAP.
Recommendations evolving from the CATCH Evaluation included the following:
1. Promote careers in community pediatrics by implementing tailored interventions:
- Create an early community experience for medical students
- Promote mentoring and learning experiences for medical students and residents
- Foster exposure to community child health activity early in pediatricians’ careers
- Focus targeted support on established pediatricians
2. Support community child health activities more broadly by fostering supportive environments in communities nationwide:
- Support creative partnerships between public health, community pediatricians, and academia
- Reach out to minority leaders
- Extend and build collaborations among private philanthropic entities and professional organizations to promote, and provide for flexible funding supporting child health activities at the local level
Several refinements to AAP CATCH programming were recommended, as well as encouragement to work closely with the American Board of Pediatrics to further promote community-based activities during residency training.
Several publications derived from the evaluation are available, including "CATCH in the Historical Context of Community Pediatrics"; "Twelve Stories: Pediatrician-Led Community Child Health Initiatives"; and a June 1999 supplement to Pediatrics, "Pediatricians' Involvement in Promoting Community Access to Child Health (CATCH)." Please see the WCHPC publications page for complete references.
Investigators included Bernard Guyer, the late Vince Hutchins, Holly Grason, Cynthia Minkovitz and Barbara Aliza.