Early Childhood Is Critical to Health Equity

Early Childhood Is Critical to Health Equity

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation & University of California, San Francisco


The field of public health relies on data and assessments of communities in order to have the information needed to provide programs and services to promote and improve health.  Health assessments show that not all populations of people in a community have the same opportunities to be healthy.  The idea that everyone should have an equal chance to be healthy is known as “health equity”.  However, it’s hard to be healthy without access to good jobs, homes and schools.  Health equity requires extra effort to increase opportunities to be healthier for everyone, especially those whose obstacles are greatest (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation).  The “Early Childhood is Critical to Health Equity” report found the following:

  • Poverty limits children’s and families’ choices for healthy living conditions
  • Racism within community and government policies (structural racism) also limits families’ options for healthy living conditions
  • Continued poverty and racism over time can cause toxic stress in children and parents; this can affect their physical, cognitive, and social emotional development
  • Early care and education can help narrow the inequitable gaps
  • Supporting children requires supporting their families

What does this mean for Iowa?  For Scott County?  Partners from a number of communities in Scott County (and the greater region) continue to work collaboratively to find ways to impact health by affecting the factors that underlie how healthy people are.  Utilizing research such as this report can help to reemphasize the importance of considering social determinants of health, specifically in childhood, when creating community plans and partnerships to improve the health of those living in Scott County.

August 8, 2018