What is Whole Child Health?

Whole child health is an integrated state of physical, cognitive, social, and emotional health and well-being in which children are developmentally on track in each of these areas. Core components and supports for whole child health include fostering healthy relationships, creating safe and secure environments, cultivating skills and competencies, and building healthy habits.

Why Whole Child Health 0-8?

Thriving people and communities depend on healthy early child development

The focus of the Healthy Futures strategy on children ages 0-8 is grounded in the knowledge that early childhood is a critical developmental period, in which the foundations for lifelong health and well-being are established. Early experiences and environments affect the developing brain and body, with potentially long-lasting consequences for learning, behavior, and health.

When healthy development is nurtured, children are likely to grow into healthy, productive, and responsible adults, contributing to healthy and strong communities. However, trauma and poverty, structural racism and inequalities, and insufficient social and educational supports can prevent children from reaching their full potential. The Healthy Futures strategy is a response to several causes for alarm regarding children’s health in the Greater Rochester area, including:

  • Economic, racial/ethnic, and geographic disparities in birth, health, and educational outcomes
  • Concerning rates of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and mental/behavioral health conditions
  • Unmet need for developmental, clinical, and other early childhood services

 

While the challenges are many, Rochester has a rich landscape of community organizations and health, educational, and social systems working to support children and families. Accumulating evidence indicates that comprehensive infant and early childhood interventions and systems changes can produce lasting impacts on health, achievement, and well-being as well as positive returns on investment. These and other research findings support an expanded focus on whole child health approaches across early childhood settings and sectors.