Taking a child to the doctor’s office is only part of a much bigger picture of what a child needs to be healthy. Health begins where children live, learn, and play, long before they get sick or have to visit their doctor or dentist for a scheduled check-up. Various factors such as affordable housing, economic security, safe neighborhoods, and access to adequate and healthy foods affect a child’s health on a daily basis. Addressing these Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) can improve long-term health outcomes for children, as well as help reduce long-term costs for both families and states. Prioritizing social determinants such as nutrition, education, and social and emotional development can help level the playing field for all children and families.
Our new brief, Health Begins Where Children Live, Learn, and Play: Advancing Health Equity, explores several promising initiatives and models that address SDOH as a long-term investment to promote child well-being. To achieve health equity for children, federal, state, and local entities must adopt promising strategies that improve health outcomes for children, including:
- the development of SDOH-centric communities;
- identification of SDOH at an early age;
- streamlining enrollment between WIC, Medicaid, and other programs that support children’s healthy development; and
- better integrating SDOH in healthcare payment and delivery systems to meet children’s unique health needs.
Our brief also provides examples of how health plans, providers, and states are incorporating SDOH strategies into their current activities. The Children’s Partnership is working to ensure that policymakers recognize the urgent need to look beyond the doctor’s office, and begin addressing the conditions in which children are born, grow, live, go to school, and play in order to support a bright future for every child.