The early years of life set us on paths leading toward – or away from – good health. Brain, cognitive and behavioral development early in life are strongly linked to health later in life including risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, smoking, drug use and depression. Family income, education, neighborhood resources as well as other social and economic factors affect health at every stage of life, but the effects on young children are particularly dramatic. While all parents want the best for their children, not all parents have the same resources to help their children grow up healthy. To improve children’s chances of leading long and healthy lives, the Commission recommends:
RECOMMENDATION: Ensure that all children have high-quality early developmental support (child care, education and other services). This will require committing substantial additional resources to meet the early developmental needs particularly of children in low-income families. Children who do not receive high-quality care, services and education begin life with a distinct disadvantage and a higher risk of becoming less healthy adults, and evidence is overwhelming that too many children are facing a lifetime of poorer health as a result. Helping every child reach full health potential requires strong support from parents and communities, and must be a top priority for the nation. New resources must be directed to this goal, even at the expense of other national priorities, and must be tied to greater measurement and accountability for impact of new and existing early childhood programs.
North Carolina’s STARS
In 2000, North Carolina launched the 5-Star Child Care License system (STARS) to raise awareness and help parents assess the quality of child care programs. Read more
July 24 Webinar: A Focus on Starting Early
Thanks to all who joined Friday's webinar, "A Focus on Starting Early." This page features the audio recording and accompanying slides from the discussion. Sign up here to be notified about the next two webinars in this three-part series on the Commission's recommendations.
United States: Social Factors Affecting Children’s Health
In the United States, health during childhood is powerfully linked with social factors, including the income and education levels of a child’s family and his or her racial or ethnic group.
United States: Gaps in Infant Mortality
Infant mortality rates – a key indicator of overall health – vary by mother’s education and racial or ethnic group nationally.