Early Childhood Wellbeing

Early Childhood Wellbeing
Early Childhood Wellbeing

Cities, communities, families, and individuals at times experience adversity, and stress.  While some adversity and stress may be manageable with positive coping, resiliency and community support, continued adversity and stress can cause toxic stress.  Research has shown how exposure to adversity and toxic stress impacts the development of the young child and may contribute to negative health outcomes including obesity, heart disease, and early death.   “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the lifetime costs associated with child maltreatment at $124 billion.”

Many communities are addressing the health and wellbeing of children through programing, environmental improvements, and policy changes focused on physical activity and nutrition to reduce the obesity epidemic.  In many instances programming focuses on behavior change, limiting unhealthy behaviors and adoption of healthy behaviors. 

What if we changed OUR focus to look at the issue of obesity through the lens of adversity? What is we changed our question from “What’s wrong with you?”  to “What’s happened to you?”  This paradigm change is taking a trauma-informed approach to early childhood health and wellbeing.

Now consider what would happen if early childhood systems of care and education within cities aligned efforts using this paradigm shift to address the impact of adversity, build resiliency, and minimize negative health impacts.

Networks of Opportunity for Child Wellbeing

Networks of Opportunity for Child Wellbeing is a strategic planning grant to design a framework and learning community that supports development of networks of opportunity across prenatal through early childhood for optimal wellbeing, with a focus on aligning early childhood systems of education and care and considering the impact of early life adversity on child growth and development, so that all children enter kindergarten at a healthy weight.

The NOW design approach has three (3) strategies:

  1. Study bright spots
  2. Convene stakeholders and experts to cultivate a learning community
  3. Identify and use metrics and data methods for support


NOW Guiding Principals

  1. Collective impact approach
  2. Framework that addresses and promotes equity
  3. Commitment to engage community members with lived experience
  4. Linking evidence of intergenerational pathways with two-generation strategies
  5. Addressing the impact of early life adversity on growth trajectory Prenatal to age 5

Connect with the NOW Learning Community 

This project is generously supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which is currently working to build a Culture of Health.