Thriving Children

Research shows investing early creates not only the best health outcomes, but also the greatest return on investment. We are working to ensure that all Kansas children have the healthy starts, safe and stable families, and early development and learning experiences necessary to thrive.

Our Goal: Ensure thriving children through healthy starts, safe and stable families, and early development and learning

A healthy pregnancy, birth and immediate postpartum period are critical for maternal and infant health. It's vital that families receive culturally competent care throughout pregnancy and their child's first year. We will provide training and grants to support evidence-based home visiting program, as well as advocate for state policies that fund programs or remove barriers to reimbursement for maternal and child health services through community-based providers such as doulas and lactation consultants. Early nutrition plays a key role. We will continue to support hospitals, birth centers, and community support groups in their efforts to improve breastfeeding outcomes for families, with an emphasis on closing the breastfeeding gap for communities of color.

Ensuring all families are safe and have food and economic security is foundational for healthy development. We will work to bring awareness to policymakers on the critical roles that food and economic security have in supporting stable families and in reducing foster care caseloads. We will support efforts to draw down federal funds to support programs that will increase access to healthy food and service coordination to help families navigate systems.

Early development supports and learning experiences are critical to a child's development and allow caregivers to work or pursue educational opportunities. We will support universal screening for early identification of social-emotional risks and challenges. We will build on the great success we've seen in implementing evidence-based early interventions such as home visiting. We will continue to support programs and policies that will create stronger bonds between children and caregivers. We will also support awareness and policy initiatives that will lead to a stable and high-quality health care system that meets the needs of both families and providers.

Investing in Healthier Futures

Acting early in a child’s life to support healthy development helps pave the way to school success and a lifetime of good health. We support universal screening for early identification of social/emotional risks and challenges, as well as evidence-based early interventions like Attachment Biobehavioral Catch-up (ABC) that foster healthy brain development through nurture. Through strong caregiver attachment and nurturance, children are better prepared for school and to hit developmental milestones on time. The Health Fund is co-funding a pilot program to determine ABC’s effectiveness in Kansas. The results show healthier children, more confident caregivers, and stronger families overall.


Breastfeeding for Healthy Starts

Early nutrition plays a key role in long-term health. Through grants that encourage breastfeeding-friendly hospital policies and other advocacy work, we’ve made huge strides in breastfeeding initiation and duration, but minority populations still lag in both areas. We continue to support work to close this gap through both awareness and policy initiatives.

Go to High 5 for Mom & Baby

© United Methodist Health Ministry Fund