In western and central New York, nearly one in five families with children under age 5 have incomes below the poverty level. Many more families straddle that line – only one job layoff or illness away from joining the official statistics.
For these families facing day-to-day struggles, prioritizing, finding and accessing high quality health care for their children can be a constant challenge.
The first few weeks, months and years of a child’s life are the most critical – and when children are most vulnerable. The developmental milestones and early learning experiences children have before age 5 will shape their health and well-being as they grow. And children who miss out on these milestones often continue to face challenges.
Recognizing the challenges families impacted by poverty face – such as unemployment, transportation difficulties and inflexible work schedules – the Foundation focuses on helping families access services, and bringing services to the places children already go, like preschools and child care centers.
Our work in this focus area aims to get families the care, information and tools they need so their kids are physically, socially and emotionally healthy when they enter kindergarten – an important stepping stone toward a bright and healthy future
- Challenge: Social-emotional learning support: Research demonstrates that children with well-developed social and emotional skills are more prepared for kindergarten, have better overall academic outcomes and a healthier physical and emotional trajectory throughout their lifespan.
- Challenge: Maternal and infant health outcomes: The U.S. still ranks last among 17 developed nations in infant mortality. For women living in poverty, life issues, along with a lack of access to care, results in high-risk pregnancies, babies with low birth weights and even infant death.
- Challenge: The need for trauma-informed care: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can have significant long-term consequences for physical and emotional health. Living in poverty and experiencing trauma are both influential risk factors for young families.