Building Bridges with Purpose

Building Bridges with Purpose

As a college student living abroad, Rachel Herbst accompanied Czech nurses providing medical care to those battling addiction and poverty. She saw firsthand the importance of forming relationships to help those in need. So, instead of pursuing a career as a pediatrician, Rachel took a detour. She decided “to be a bridge for families” and help them obtain essential medical and health care for their children.

Now a pediatric psychologist, she was instrumental in launching ZERO TO THREE’s groundbreaking HealthySteps program at three clinics in Cincinnati, Ohio. She serves as a HealthySteps Specialist at the city’s Hopple Street Neighborhood Health Clinic. She is also lead psychologist overseeing integrated behavioral health services in pediatric primary care at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.


“I love being a support, a guide, a contortionist—whatever it is that families need me to be,” Rachel says.

Hopple Street’s patient population has experienced trauma and economic hardship, and they often have limited support and encouragement while raising children.

“I am inspired by the families as they navigate things that would knock other people down,” she says.

Through the HealthySteps network, Rachel is supported by more than 250 child development professionals integrated into pediatric primary care teams across the country. They work tirelessly to address families’ common and complex concerns, such as feeding, behavior, sleep, adapting to life with a baby, and detecting early developmental delays.

For Rachel, HealthySteps’ impact is far-reaching. “It helps to chip away at the intergenerational cycle of poverty that runs so strong,” she says. Through HealthySteps, we are transforming the promise of pediatric care.

“[The program is] the glue needed in communities so that families have connections in safe places. It is a port of entry to redesign how we think about health care.”

Rachel Herbst, PhD, is a HealthySteps Specialist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital and former HealthySteps National Ambassador.

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