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Barbara Popper Receives the US Dept. of Health and Human Services, Maternal and Child Health Bureau Director’s Award

Steve & Barbera PopperWife, mother, grandmother, teacher, advocate, colleague, mentor, friend - these are just a few of the roles that Barbara Popper fulfils in the lives of her family, friends, colleagues, and for all families raising children and youth with special needs. For these reasons, and many more, Barbara was awarded a Maternal Children Health (MCH) Director’s Award for her more than 40 years of commitment to promoting the health of women and children.

Barbara entered the advocacy arena when she found herself in the hospital with one of her four children. The hospital’s restrictive visitation policies did not make sense and treated parents as adversaries, rather than allies in their children’s care. To promote the parent’s role in the care of their hospitalized children, she started Children In Hospitals (CIH), a non-profit, volunteer educational and advocacy organization. CIH conducted a survey of visitation policies at other hospitals, and used the information to advocate for 24-hour family visitation policies at Massachusetts hospitals. Families have Barbara to thank for being able to room in with their hospitalized children.

Barbara continued her activism and advocacy. When Boston Children’s Hospital placed a public advertisement in the paper indicating its plans to build a new building, Barbara joined other parents at the Federation. They requested a meeting with the hospital to discuss the building plans. This effort grew into a Family Advisory Group that met with members of the hospital staff and administration throughout the planning and building process, having significant impact on the building itself and on family policies. After completion of the hospital building, the committee became a standing Family Advisory Committee for the new hospital.

Promoting health and wellness is another of Barbara’s passions. She’s the first to urge people to take a walk at lunch time, and bring healthy snacks. She is a long time member of La Leche League, and a certified lactation consultant. As part of Family Voices, Barbara contributed to the creation of the Bright Futures for Families Pocket Guide, and is currently contributing to the updated version. She gathered information from families and professionals about their telehealth and telemedicine experiences to create a booklet, Family Voices in SCHIP Telehealth/Telemedicine Report to Families: Bridges Not Boundaries, The Value and Use of Telemedicine for Children and Youth with Special Needs. Barbara was also the lead investigator for the Family Matters project, a multi-state research study about health and wellness for families raising children and youth with special health care needs. In addition, as a staff member at the Federation, Barbara helps direct the APPLE project, which assists parents of children with special needs in developing their leadership skills in the education system.

Please join us in congratulating Barbara on her well-deserved award.