RWJF Commission: Educare improves well-being of children and families

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Commission to Build a Healthier America reports that outside of the traditional health care system, supporting our country’s youngest children is one of the most promising methods to improve health. Research shows that high-quality learning experiences at a young age can greatly impact children’s physical and mental health throughout their lives.

Following its initial recommendations for improving health, released in January 2014, the commission hosted an online event August 12 to further explore how high-quality early learning programs like Educare can lead to positive health outcomes for children and families. The commission highlighted a few promising programs, including Educare, which was presented by Jessie Rasmussen, president of the Buffett Early Childhood Fund.

Rasmussen discussed how Educare helps shape health outcomes by addressing emotional stressors, focusing on nutrition and physical activities, and paying attention to the health needs of children and their families. Rasmussen also described how Educare takes a duel generational approach to address the needs of both children and parents, shifting from a parent involvement to a parent engagement model.

For example, Educare schools provide parents with information about their child’s cognitive and emotional development to build their parenting skills. Some schools also partner with community organizations to provide job training and other resources.

“When it comes to Educare, parents are the heroes of our story,” Rasmussen said.

By providing support for both generations, Educare helps parents become champions for their children, which in turn leads to improved health and well-being of whole families. Read the commission’s issue brief and view slides from the presentation.

Watch this RWJF video featuring Educare Washington, DC, to learn more about the Educare model.