June 26, 1998

Upcoming conference on family resource centers to be held here

The first national conference of resource centers that serve families and friends of children in health care settings will be held at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital early next year.

Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, vice chancellor for Health Affairs at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, announced plans for the First Conference on Family Resource Centers in Pediatric Health Care Settings during Family Re-Union 7, a two-day family issues conference moderated by Vice President Al Gore.

Family resource centers are among innovations to enhance family-centered health care being highlighted during Family Re-Union 7: Families and Health at Langford Auditorium.

"We welcome the opportunity during Family Re-Union 7 to highlight our own nationally known Family Resource Center and to learn about others' strategies for family-centered health care," Jacobson said. "Our hope is that the First Conference on Family Resource Centers will continue the momentum and dialogue begun over these two days."

The First Conference on Family Resource Centers will enable those involved with family resource centers worldwide to learn from each other and collaborate on future projects and concerns, said Barbara K. Ramsey, Ph.D., coordinator of the Junior League Family Resource Center at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.

"Family resource centers have grown up independently, with some having been established for many years and others just in the planning stages," Ramsey said. "Until now, there has been no formal means of communication between centers. This will provide the first opportunity to get together, learn what each center is doing and start a more collaborative effort in the future."

Family resource centers nationwide face similar influences, including the rise of managed care, the explosion of information technology and the growth of family participation in health care delivery and decision-making, Ramsey said.

The conference is expected to convene in February or March. The program is being developed based on feedback from hundreds of family resource centers at children's hospitals and other pediatric health care facilities in the United States, Canada and other countries, Ramsey said.

The Junior League Family Resource Center at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital has evolved over the past five years to meet the needs of parents, siblings, grandparents and other family members. The center is a place to find information about children's conditions, growth and development and other concerns; about services in families' communities; and about support and advocacy groups on the local, state and national levels. The Family Resource Center also provides materials to health care professionals at Children's Hospital and in the community.