In 2017, to expand its support of efforts to improve children’s health and respond to urgent needs in the community, the Greater Rochester Health Foundation developed an updated strategic plan – Healthy Futures: Improving the Health and Wellbeing of Children 0-8.

The strategy was guided by a number of critical factors. We heard from members of the community who were increasingly raising alarms about children’s health and it was clear that families needed support. With our work in childhood healthy weight, our involvement with the report by the Commission on Children’s Behavioral Health, and our expanded work with the Greater Rochester Initiative for Children’s Social and Emotional Health Implementation Task Force, the Health Foundation saw an opportunity to help.

The resulting Healthy Futures Strategy was enacted after careful consideration, thorough review of learnings from past efforts, and discussion among the Health Foundation Board of Directors, staff, community stakeholders and consultants. The process was thoughtful and, as with all of our actions, guided by the long-term needs of our community.

The Healthy Futures Strategy will guide our investments over the next decade. The strategy includes three elements, designed to work synergistically, and supports the work of many other community organizations to change the landscape of opportunities for children:

Finding What Works: Approaches for Healthy Futures
Efforts will identify, test, and integrate evidence-based, whole child health interventions into elementary schools, childcare settings, and other venues and evaluate their efficacy. Further efforts will explore and test better ways to tackle the challenge of engaging with and assisting parents and families.

Building Community Capacity for Healthy Futures
Focuses on building community capacity, resources, collaborations, and skills for the physical, nutritional, cognitive, social, and emotional wellbeing of children.

Healthi Kids: Voices for Healthy Futures
Reflects policy and advocacy work directed towards increasing the quality and capacity of services accessible to children and families and promoting healthy environments for development.

The Health Foundation started the initial phase of the Healthy Futures strategy in 2017 by increasing our commitment to support advocacy through an expanded partnership with Healthi Kids, and by issuing an invitation-only request for proposals for the development of a Training and Coaching Center. The grant for the Training and Coaching Center is expected to be awarded in December 2017. The Healthy Futures strategy will then be implemented incrementally, with the selection of an evaluator of the Healthy Futures Strategy expected in early 2018.