A Healthy Beginning: Strategies and Approaches

Even if a child is born healthy, the high cost of health care and baby supplies means that one in three American mothers struggle even to provide diapers for their babies.

Keeping our youngest children healthy is particularly important for the economic stability of lower-income families. A healthy beginning to life depends on prenatal, well-baby and pediatric care for children up to six years old, including:

•A healthy pregnancy and birth
•Age-appropriate, culturally competent, primary and preventive care that supports early development

•A healthy home environment that support infants and children
Promoting children’s health from the start is part of our efforts to build stronger, healthier communities. It has been shown that 90% of brain development happens before age six. A healthy early childhood can significantly affect a child’s development and be an indicator of future success in school.

Metro United Way offers a unique tool for families to monitor their child’s development called the Ages and Stages Questionnaire. This tool helps families identify potential delays – before it’s too late – so children can start school on the right track. Click here to learn how the Ages and Stages Questionnaire help develop healthy kids.

We also work closely with FamilyWize – a program that provide discounts on prescriptions for children and adults.

Implementing the following strategies can be the foundation of a community-wide plan to provide families with the resources they need to keep their children healthy:

Live United for Healthy LivingStrategy 1: •Increase use of preventive care for mothers and children.

•Increase access to primary, oral health, gynecological and obstetrical care through increased enrollment in public health programs including Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Healthy Start, Medicaid, and Women, Infants, & Children (WIC).
•Increase access to care and coverage, including efforts to improve enrollment in public programs and reduce cultural barriers to care through local, state and federal advocacy.
•Improve patient education on preventive health.
Strategy 2: •Strengthen health provider-patient relationships.

•Connect mothers and children with a medical home by:
-Facilitating enrollment in health coverage and identifying a primary care provider who accepts that coverage.
-Linking key health care organizations and community agencies to provide a more seamless screening, enrolling and assignment to a medical home.
•Encourage medical homes to use visits as an opportunity to provide risk assessment and education to women of childbearing age.
•Increase the number of health care providers with a focus on women’s health.
Strategy 3: •Increase the number of children who live in homes that are safe and free from pollutants (e.g. tobacco smoke, mold and lead).

•Minimize primary or secondary tobacco exposure and alcohol and other drug use through targeted education and outreach efforts.
•Increase knowledge and awareness among housing providers, owners, and tenants about the dangers of unsafe and unhealthy housing and about their rights and responsibilities.
•Improve and enforce current federal, state and local housing codes and guidelines.
Strategy 4: •Strengthen families to reduce domestic and family violence.

•Facilitate family support systems and social connections with families at risk of violence.
•Increase parenting skills and knowledge of child development supports through parent-child centers and home visitation programs with trained personnel.
•Reduce stress on families by providing concrete support in times of need, including financial security to cover day-to-day expenses and unexpected costs as well as access to formal supports including Medicaid and CHIP.
•Advocate for policies within child welfare systems that are focused on prevention of violence.


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