The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has released the report Time to Act: Investing in the Health of our Children and Communities which highlights recommendations from the RWJF Commission to Build a Healthier America. The commission has one focus: find better methods for improving the health of all Americans.
The report offers three main recommendations.
- Invest in the foundations of lifelong physical and mental well-being in our youngest children
- Create communities that foster health-promoting behaviors
- Broaden health care to promote health outside of the medical system
Community Commons supports these ideas and, over the next few weeks, will highlight each one individually to share stories, data, and reporting tools that can help you act on these recommendations and improve health in your community.
The report further defines this into three actions:
- Create stronger quality standards for early childhood development programs, link funding to program quality, and guarantee access by funding enrollment for all low-income children under age 5.
- Help parents who struggle to provide healthy, nurturing experiences for their children.
- Invest in research and innovation. Evaluation research will ensure that all early childhood programs are based on the best available evidence. Innovation will catalyze the design and testing of new intervention strategies to achieve substantially greater impacts than current best practices.
Action 1: Create Quality Standards for Early Childhood Education
“High-quality programs are essential but not sufficient if all children do not have access to them. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services implemented tougher rules for low-performing Head Start grantees, requiring those who fail to meet specific benchmarks to recompete for continued federal funding. This is one good example of a federal program that is working to address the variable quality of existing programs. A strengthened, improved Head Start should be embraced as a model for others.”–Time to Act: Investing in the Health of Our Children and Communities
Head Start Facilities in Relation to Population Density and Tribal Lands
A map like this shows where Head Start programs exist in relation to population density demographics. Other data layers, such as poverty levels, food access, public housing locations, employment rates and much more are available for you to target in on your areas of interest.
Action 2: Help Provide Positive Experiences for Children and Families
“Economic stability is a major factor that can affect early childhood development. Some children live in homes where the stresses of daily life, work, and child rearing make a well-functioning home environment difficult to achieve. These stresses can be high in single-parent families, where there may be fewer resources.”–Time to Act: Investing in the Health of Our Children and Communities
Single-Female Family Households Living Below Poverty
“Communities should have informal supports and programs that can strengthen families and help them break the cycle of disadvantage that is often passed across generations.”–Time to Act: Investing in the Health of Our Children and Communities
Our Vulnerable Populations Footprint tool helps you identify areas of greatest need by pinpointing where high poverty and low educational attainment exist down to the census tract level.
Action 3: Invest in Research and Innovation
“Government and private funders, including philanthropy and business, have an important role to play in ensuring that the best science informs both the scaling of high-quality programming and the development of new ideas.”–Time to Act: Investing in the Health of Our Children and Communities
Garnering support for increased funding can be a daunting task. The Commons has featured several Guest Voice commentaries from leaders in the Healthy Communities Movement that are both inspirational and provide evidence that investing in health and wellness can have a significant impact.
- Stacy D. Stewart tell us about thinking and working in new ways in United Way, Healthy Communities and Collective Impact.
- Salud America is focused on Growing Healthy Change for Latino children with their new community action oriented website.
- The Prevention Institute tell us that Cultivating Prevention Champions within elected officials can truly transform cities and districts.
Stay tuned as we continue to connect tools, data, and ideas to the rest of the Time to Act: Investing in the Health of our Children and Communities report recommendations. At Community Commons, we believe that a nation full of healthy, thriving communities is closer than you think — and to get there, we’ll need to work and learn together.