Over 90% of brain development happens before a child’s fifth birthday. These early years can set the tone for children’s physical and emotional growth throughout their lives. Children with strong foundations in the early years are more likely to be successful - more likely to be gainfully employed, earn enough income to meet their needs, and in turn are more likely to raise healthy children themselves.
Children growing up in poverty often have limited access to key supports and resources during the first five years – supports that would help strengthen their emotional and physical foundation. 20% of
children are born into poverty, and 40% of children in our community will experience poverty at least once before age five. This places them at more risk of having emotional and physical delays.
To support the health of young children in poverty, it makes sense to support their families by improving education, increasing income, and promoting healthy parenting skills. Stabilizing families makes home a safer place, which supports children’s long-term emotional and physical health.
For example, increasing a family’s income means more money is available for health care, quality childcare, and nutritious foods. Promoting healthy parenting skills helps parents make decisions in their children’s best interest – including everything from what foods to purchase to how to handle discipline and tantrums.
Engaging and empowering parents promotes the healthy development of children by bringing supports to the place that matters most – the home. If we want to improve the health of children, it makes sense to work with both children and their parents – the whole family.
United Way supports programs that do just that. These programs include Family Service Rochester’s Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health, Gage East’s Early Childhood Program, and the Jeremiah Program. Together, they provide mental health supports to children and their parents, stabilize families by providing housing and wrap-around supports, and empower parents to become active participants in their children’s development.
Program investments of this kind are one of several strategies used by United Way to co-create community change and build coalitions dedicated to improving our community together. Olmsted County is a great place to live and raise a family, and as a community we have a long history of caring for one another. We are honored to be a part of that legacy and extend our long history of investing to improve lives right here in Olmsted County.
We ask you to join in supporting whole families by giving of your time, talents, and treasures to children and their families through United Way. Learn how to get involved by visiting uwolmsted.org.