PHC Early Childhood Wellness Plan 2016-2020

The culmination of this work is the PHC’s Early Childhood Wellness Plan 2016-2020. This plan will allow for mutually reinforcing activities from PHC partners and provide a uniform way to measure our success as we collectively tackle these difficult challenges.

The Early Childhood Wellness Plan 2016-2020 performs three functions:

  1. Provides a Shared Measurement System: The PHP provides a clearinghouse of indicators that our partners have identified as priority areas to track as we measure our impact.
  2. Provides Direction: The Early Childhood Wellness Plan 2016-2020 provides targets for 2020. As the PHC tracks these indicators throughout the next four years, we will be able to assess which indicators are improving and which ones are not. This provides our collaborative the ability to make data-driven decisions on where to invest our energy and resources.
  3. Informs our Partners on Nationally Recognized Best and Promising Practices. The PHC will provide information on evidence-based and promising programs that our partners can implement in order to collectively improve our PHC health indicators.

The PHC’s Early Childhood Wellness Plan 2016-2020 is a living document that provides the information necessary to make informed decisions by our policy makers, planners, providers, and advocates.

The PHC has identified six health focus areas for improving the preventive health system for children and their families that are addressed in this plan:

  • Nutrition & Physical Activity
  • Access to Care
  • Prenatal & Newborn Health
  • Developmental & Mental Health
  • Injury Prevention
  • Oral Health

These focus areas carry over from the previous plan.

Nutrition and Physical Activity

Nutrition and physical activity are two key components to ensuring a positive health status and are important in young children’s growth and development. Access to quality and nutrient rich foods is considered a social determinant of health, as being a member of a traditionally minority population or lower socioeconomic status is linked to less social support for and skills in eating a balanced diet. Similarly, physical barriers such as access to a nearby grocery store are more likely in these populations.

Additionally, social and physical barriers and disparities impact physical activity which can impact weight and physical health. Childhood obesity is most prevalent in Mexican-American children and Black female children, who are more likely to be of low socioeconomic statusi. One factor linked with increased physical activity in children is access to play equipment and recreation activities either in their school or neighborhoodii. Another influential factor in childhood physical activity is parental support.

The PHC’s Nutrition and Physical Activity goal areas for families with children ages 0-5 focus on:

  1. increasing access and consumption of affordable, healthy foods
  2. promoting collaboration with early childhood education (ECE) programs to support healthy nutrition and physical activity
  3. encouraging a minimum of 60 minutes of daily physical activity
  4. promoting safe places for physical activity

Access to Care

Access to health services and adequate healthcare is a necessity for all individuals’ quality of life. Ensuring access to health services has been shown to be linked with positive health outcomesi. Currently, Maricopa County residents experience disparities in their access to health services and barriers that lead to minimal preventative healthcare, unmet health needs, and delays in receiving adequate care. Children and families that have health insurance but do not receive quality health care or discontinuous health care have poorer health outcomesii. Children and families without health insurance are less likely to receive medical care and are more likely to have a poor health status.

The PHC’s Access to Care goal areas for families with children ages 0-5 focus on:

  1. improving health care literacy of families with young children
  2. increasing the utilization of preventive care
  3. increasing access to health care for uninsured families
  4. reducing the number of children without health insurance

Prenatal and Newborn Health

Maternal and fetal health risks, as well as infant health problems, can be mitigated by maternal access to pre-conception, pregnancy, and inter-conception health care. Access to appropriate care and poverty are two key factors influencing childbirth and infant health. The physiologic and cognitive growth of an infant are affected by a mother’s nutrition, health, and behaviors before, during, and after her pregnancy. Breastfeeding is considered a best practice in ensuring infant nutrition and health, however a mother’s ability to breastfeed is moderated by a variety of challenges related to poverty, social norms, and public policies.

The PHC’s Prenatal and Newborn Health goal areas for pregnant women and families with children ages 0-5 focus on:

  1. encouraging women to engage in prenatal health care early in pregnancy
  2. promoting nutrition education for mothers and their babies.
  3. promoting breastfeeding
  4. reducing preterm birth rates and low birth rates
  5. reducing infant mortality rates

Developmental and Mental Health

The time of development between birth to five years of age are critical for a child’s overall development, including cognitive, physical, and socio-emotional development. Living in poverty can have significant detrimental effects on a child’s development. Studies show that living in a safe and supportive environment can have protective factors against negative mental health. Early childhood interventions are also seen as key to mitigating the severity of mental health issues.

The PHC’s Developmental and Mental Health goal areas for families with children ages 0-5 focus on:

  1. Increasing early screenings, detection, diagnosis, and interventions
  2. increasing the quality of developmental disabilities programs
  3. promoting parent and caregiver education
  4. promoting positive parenting behaviors to build healthy parent-child relationships

Injury Prevention

Data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that accidents (unintentional injury) was the leading cause of death for children ages one to four. Many injuries due to accidents can be prevented by assessing a child’s home environment for safety. Other influential factors in preventing accidental deaths in children are social in nature, such as parental monitoring and the community environment. Other leading causes of death reported by the CDC were congenital reasons and homicide. There were over 30,000 cases of child abuse and neglect in Maricopa County in 2014. Key risk factors linked with infant homicide are the child being born outside of a hospital, the mother receiving no or late prenatal care, and low levels of maternal education.

The PHC’s Injury Prevention goal areas for families with children ages 0-5 focus on:

  1. reducing rates of child maltreatment
  2. reducing motor vehicle traffic injuries
  3. reducing rates of suffocation and drowning
  4. promoting a reduction in safety hazards in homes

Oral Health

The Office of the Surgeon General reports that oral health is a vital component of overall physical health and quality of life. Preventative oral health care has been increasing in the United States over the past few decades, however, low socioeconomic status populations and certain minority populations continue to experience barriers in receiving routine preventive care. Populations such as those with lower levels of education or lower income and certain racial and ethnic groups have higher rates of oral health issues than the general public. Recent reports from the Government Accountability Office pinpoint expanding access to oral healthcare as a solution for these groups.

The PHC’s Oral Health goal areas for families with children ages 0-5 focus on:

  1. increasing rates of dental screenings and varnishes
  2. increasing access to healthy foods
  3. increasing access to healthy foodsincreasing oral health education in medical offices and ECE centers
  4. identifying and addressing key barriers to young children receiving follow-up and restorative oral health treatment
  5. encouraging families to reduce consumption of sugary drinks and foods through community educational campaigns