childrenChildhood is a time of critical biological, social and emotional development. The early childhood years (ages 1 to 4) are especially crucial, as they are the time of a child’s greatest growth and development and can have a tremendous impact on future health outcomes. The school-age years (5 to 9) are also significant in that we are provided with a unique opportunity to reach almost all children within the institution of school. Statistically, childhood is the healthiest period of our lives, yet children remain the most vulnerable citizens of our society. They experience the lowest mortality rate of all ages, yet injury is the #1 cause of death for children over six months.

Poverty is the single greatest indicator of health status for young children, and rates of poverty among children and families in the United States are the highest among the industrialized nations.

Other issues of significance for the health of children include health care access, mental health services, obesity prevention, stable/safe housing and high-quality education. Nationally, there has been a commitment to this population as over half of the Healthy People (HP) 2020 goals are related to children’s health. HP 2020 Goals topics and objectives address issues such as oral health, immunizations, mental health, physical activity, injury and violence prevention and a new topic to target the health in early and middle childhood.