Health Affairs Issues Two Policy Briefs on Early Child Health Initiatives

Health Affairs this week published two health policy briefs as part of its ongoing series, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, on the social determinants of health. The briefs are intended to provide readers with a comprehensive examination of evidence, research, and potential policy interventions that are fundamental to advancing a culture of health. This week’s briefs include:

  • Early Childhood Home Visiting Programs and HealthThis brief examines childhood home visiting programs and their role in connecting new and expectant parents with support services, screenings, case management, and caregiver skills training. Researchers have found that various home visiting programs have resulted in fewer preterm and low-birthweight babies, more children adequately immunized and completing well-child visits, greater achievement of developmental milestones, fewer child emergency department visits, and better maternal physical and mental health outcomes. The brief also indicates that current federal funding for such programming is insufficient to meet the need and calls for an innovative and sustainable approach to delivering these critical services.
  • The Effects of Early Care and Education on Children’s HealthThis brief examines the landscape of nonparental early care and education (ECE) services, including center-based care, public and private preschool, and Head Start. The brief acknowledges that the outcomes of ECE on children’s educational and behavioral outcomes are well-studied, but research on the impacts of children’s health is a nascent subject. While ECE programs are not necessarily designed to improve child health, a growing body of research indicates that such programming may lead to short- and long-term improvements in health-related outcomes for participants. An extended summary of key studies in the area of health impacts of ECE is included as part of the brief.

Additional information on Health Affairs, including additional health policy briefs, is available here