DULCE employs a strength-based approach to help parents navigate the challenges of caring for babies, raising healthy children, and advocating for what they need. We are transforming the way families experience the health care system, starting with their baby’s first routine medical visit. Families develop a relationship with a DULCE Family Specialist, who helps them navigate supports and creates the conditions for healthy development. By prioritizing parent-identified needs, connecting them to support, and building trusting relationships, parents get the support they need to raise healthy children and advocate for their well-being.
DULCE embodies a belief that all children and families should have the support they need for healthy development. The DULCE approach includes:
A community-based, early childhood organization. The organization guides the overall strategy and long-term planning for DULCE, coordinates care, and brings together the early childhood, health and legal experts to connect families with complementary resources and support.
Well-trained, supervised Family Specialists. A critical part of the primary care team, Family Specialists are trained in relational approaches to family-centered care and provide direct support, fostering a trusting relationship with families and building parents’ confidence.
A team that honors families’ needs and priorities. Parents know their families best. The DULCE Interdisciplinary Team reviews cases weekly, problem-solves together, and ensures families are connected to services by working with parents on what their families need most.
A legal partner. Integrating a legal partner into the DULCE Interdisciplinary Team helps children and families get the comprehensive services for which they qualify and improve the functioning of systems for the broader community.
Clinics located in communities that can benefit most. All families in the clinic are invited to participate in DULCE. This universal approach minimizes stigma and recognizes that all families need support during this first phase of their child’s life.
The model was co-developed by Robert Sege, M.D., Ph.D., now at Tufts Medical Center, and Samantha Morton, former CEO, MLPB. It is grounded in the compelling findings from a randomized controlled trial (RCT) conducted at Boston Medical Center in 2010-13. DULCE has a statistically significant impact on enrolled children and families, as well as the clinics that serve them. Results from the RCT published in Pediatrics in 2015 found that DULCE resulted in:
- Accelerated access to concrete supports. DULCE families secured supports for which they were eligible at roughly twice the pace of control families.
- Better completion rates for well-child visits and immunizations.
- Reduced use of emergency room care by DULCE families.