Developmental Understanding and Legal Collaboration for Everyone (DULCE)

Status: Current
Year: 2015
Location: National
Client: Nonprofits
Services Provided: Policy & Health Systems Improvement
Technical Expertise: Early Education and Childhood Development
Website: https://dulcenational.org/


The first six months following the birth of a child are a challenging time for most families. Developmental Understanding and Legal Collaborations for Everyone (DULCE) supports families by adding a Family Specialist to the infant’s primary care medical home. DULCE builds family strengths by incorporating training and support from existing evidence-based programs. For example, family development is provided by the Brazleton Touchpoints Center, concrete supports are provided by the Medical Legal Partnership, and screening and referral are coordinated with the clinic’s implementation of Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment. DULCE recognizes that parents are the most important people in an infant’s life, and as such, parents direct the specific services they want and need from the Family Specialist.

DULCE was launched in the spring and summer of 2016, and already has achieved several early markers of success, including:

  •  Families like DULCE: We have enrolled 900 families (or 98% of all eligible families) as of March 2017. As of February 2017, only 13% had been lost to the program, largely because they had moved out of the area.
  • Clinic directors love DULCE: We have seen significant improvement in the efficiency of clinic operations including lower no-show rate, and increased on-time immunizations, among others.
  • Our national partners (MLP and Touchpoints) have actively engaged in co-design of DULCE with each other and with the sites, resulting in changes in how we best support families.
  • County-level early childhood leaders have used DULCE to build connections between healthcare and the early childhood system, capitalizing on the nearly universal reach of healthcare.