Building on what works: Improving children’s futures

Improving children’s health and development requires strong partnerships, sustainable financing, and the ability to match children’s needs to proven programs, say Jessica Ripper and Abel Ortiz

RESEARCH HAS IDENTIFIED A NUMBER of critical milestones that predict success in school. For example, children who enter school ready to learn, have a strong attendance record, and are proficient readers by third grade are more likely to do well. However, academic success also depends on a child’s ability to reach non-academic milestones, such as regulating their behavior and interacting positively with their peers. Evidence2Success: Improving Our Children’s Futures is a new project developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and several partners. It aims to improve the well-being of children from low-income communities in a city through evidence-based programs, beginning in two communities before expanding citywide. The project targets improvements across five critical areas of children’s health and development: education and skills attainment, behavior, positive relationships, emotional well-being, and physical health. Evidence2Success also examines root causes that affect child well-being and the influences on their lives. These influences include children’s families, community norms and expectations, and schools. Many children growing up in low-income communities are also influenced by public agencies, which often support families’ basic needs or, in child welfare or juvenile justice cases, take on a parental role in the child’s life. Evidence2Success unites all of these influences, to develop a shared vision for children’s health and development.

What we know
● It is important to tackle the root causes that affect child well-being.
● Evidence2Success targets education and skills attainment, as well as behavior, positive relationships, emotional wellbeing, and physical health.
● Evidence-based programs, strong partnerships, and sustainable financing are key to success.

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February 2012