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A PolicyLab Forum 2022 Special Preview: Q&A With David Rubin, MD
Regional leaders in children's health will convene May 9 and 10 at PolicyLab Forum 2022, "Bridging New Partnerships, Creating Change", to discuss the most pressing policy and practice issues facing youth and their families today. The event, held at Philadelphia's Kimmel Center for Performing Arts, is in partnership with AcademyHealth, a nonprofit organization dedicated to health services research and health policy. Attendees of the forum can expect a packed agenda of plenary speakers and breakout discussion sessions, including the youth behavioral health crisis and much more. We sat down with David Rubin, MD, MSCE, PolicyLab's Director, to learn what attendees can expect when they register for this springtime event. You can purchase tickets to attend the forum online until April 22.
This year's theme is "Bridging New Partnerships, Creating Change." Why that theme, and why is it so timely right now?
As we hopefully move out of the public health emergency for COVID-19, I think there is a need now to take stock of the services we provide to children and the outcomes that we're seeing for kids across PolicyLab's traditional research portfolios — around behavioral health, community health, intergenerational services for families, and adolescent health. There's a need not just to take stock, but also to think about what we've learned over the last couple of years. What has COVID magnified in terms of the challenges that we've had? How are we going to look forward now to reestablish footing and really start to create some progress in the full breadth of the needs that children and families have?
That's great! Can you speak a little bit about how research plays a part in this theme?
There's a real need to reestablish a research agenda. Bridging research to policy and practice will be important in this next phase of returning to these important areas, but also learning from the challenges that we've had. Observationally, from an epidemiologic perspective, we need to understand the impacts that have occurred throughout this period, but also start building an evidence base for the types of programs that can help steward improvement in well-being and outcomes for kids and their families as we move forward.
You partnered with AcademyHealth. Why did you choose this partner, and what do they contribute?
AcademyHealth is not just about children, but it represents at a grand scale health services research, observational research, and policy-oriented research around the needs, services, and outcomes for people across the community — from children to adults and across the country and also globally. By partnering with AcademyHealth, we're hopefully going to reach a larger audience to create momentum around the needs of children and families and have a much stronger interdisciplinary audience, as we bring people back together to kind of hit "reset" and to re-energize a lot of our traditional research programs for children and families.
What can attendees or potential attendees expect to get out of this forum if they do attend?
Hopefully, it will help to inspire new areas for collaborative research and new areas for collaborative policymaking and program development, bringing people together in an interdisciplinary way that supports a community-engaged research platform focused on health equity and how we build back a stronger infrastructure for services and programs that impact the health and well-being of children and their families.
Can you tell us about the speakers this year?
We have strong sessions planned, and each one of those has strong speakers. We're doing this as panel sessions to encourage more vigorous debate and moderation. We have representatives from the federal government, from our Medicaid and insurance programs, from school-based health programs, from academia, and more. We also have some really exciting superintendents and leaders from school communities across the country joining us. This is truly going to be, I think, an event that brings people back together after being away for two years in a very organized and interdisciplinary way.
Can you speak about the different tracks attendees can choose at the forum?
Throughout the event, attendees can choose to follow a behavioral health or heath equity track if they are interested in focusing in those areas, particularly during the breakout sessions. The breakout sessions relate to the plenary panels, but they allow people to dive in deeper in areas of their own choosing. This structure provides the flexibility at an interdisciplinary conference for people to specialize in areas that they work most closely.
As the director of PolicyLab, what excites you the most about this upcoming forum?
I think a chance of reconnecting with people across a variety of disciplines and really inspiring some new innovative ways of thinking about the challenges that families are facing moving forward.
Is there anything else you'd like attendees to know?
Engaging youth in the event is a big priority of ours. In addition to having youth or youth-based organizations represented on panels, we are finding other ways to get youth involved in the event. We're distributing Outstanding Youth Awards at our reception and some Philadelphia-area youth groups will be featured through videos during the event. We're also going to have a donation drive for a couple of youth-focused organizations in the city. Bringing the population that we all serve to the event is really important to us, and we're excited to have a few opportunities to do that.
We're really excited about this forum. I think it's a real opportunity to hit reset and re-energize the work around children and families and do so in a very inclusive way with many schools of thought.