Advocating for Children and Families

Parents with a sick child often face an impossible choice: staying with their child or going to work in order to keep their job. Atty Moriarty, MD, a third-year resident in pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD), has seen countless families struggle with this choice in the intensive care nursery, in the pediatric inpatient unit, and in outpatient clinics. Last year, she decided to take action on the issue, and she knew exactly where to turn for guidance and support. 

“By really listening to families, we can advocate for change that benefits all kids,” says Steven Chapman, MD, the medical director of the Boyle Community Pediatrics Program at CHaD, which is funded by philanthropy. (Learn more about Boyle Program initiatives here.

With the guidance of Chapman and the Boyle Program, Moriarty began researching paid family medical leave legislation and its impact—and sharing what she learned with colleagues, the public, and legislators.

In February 2021, she testified before New Hampshire legislators in support of paid family medical leave and shared data showing that the policy benefits not just families but also employers and the economy. So far, new legislation on the issue has not passed, but Moriarty will continue advocating for the policy. 

“We are unique witnesses to the struggles of families,” says Moriarty. “We can approach leaders in our communities, in our states, and tell them what we are seeing.” 

Last summer, another pediatric resident, Faith Goronga, MD, led a public forum on racism and the wellbeing of Black youth in the Upper Valley, with the support of the Boyle Program. Several youth described their experiences with racism, and local police listened and shared their thoughts. The virtual event drew more than 240 attendees. 

Embracing that broader role of pediatricians in society is the ethos that the Boyle Program aims to inspire in all pediatric residents at CHaD. 

Carola Lea is a longtime donor to the Boyle Program.

Many Initiatives, One Mission

“Our mission is to train better pediatricians and build community partnerships so children can live their healthiest, happiest lives,” says Chapman. The Boyle Program—named in honor of its first medical director, retired pediatrician William Boyle, MD—was founded and continues to grow through the generosity of donors.

“I’ve always been interested in beginnings and the advantages of networking, and both are at the core of the Boyle Program,” says Carola Lea, who has been supporting the Boyle Program with annual gifts for more than 20 years. Lea has worked often with young children throughout her life, as a substitute teacher and volunteer for local ski programs and 4H clubs. “For children, their families and communities are their network.”

The Boyle Program carries out its mission through a variety of educational, clinical, and advocacy initiatives. For example, it’s Family Advisory Board and Parents in Recovery groups help CHaD improve clinical care and services to better support children and their families—especially those facing chronic illnesses, food insecurity, foster care, substance misuse, and other challenges.

“The Boyle Program is all about partnering with families and community to improve care both in and out of the hospital so that all children can thrive” says Chapman. “And the generosity of donors makes this work possible.” 

By Jennifer Durgin