WASHINGTON: A new report produced by Asset Funders Network (AFN), in collaboration with Yale's Medical School Program for Recovery and Community Health, reveals that for many children 3-17 years of age, health and wealth inequities are standing in the way of a prosperous future, especially with those of color.
The report, Pioneering Health and Wealth Integration for Children, is the first in a series that builds off AFN's 2017 publication, The Health and Wealth Connection Opportunities for Investment Across the Life Course, that provided the initial research and showcased philanthropic investments around the intersection of asset-building and health promotion.
Why the focus on children age 3-17 years of age?
The ages of 3-17 are a crucial developmental period for children as they shape future health, behavioral patterns, and opportunities that set the foundation for the well-being and wealth of future adults. Children are not only the future decision-makers and drivers of our economy; they will also become the parents of generations to follow. Their financial, physical, and mental health will directly affect the health-wealth outcomes of their children.
Despite the well-documented connection between health and wealth, investing in this intersection is still a new approach for many grantmakers, said Joe Antolin, Executive Director Asset Funders Network. Our investigations, while compiling this report, reveal that a focus on families with children age 3-17 years, offers investors abundant opportunities to pioneer new innovations.
To better equip philanthropy to strategically invest in the intersection of health and wealth, Pioneering Health and Wealth Integration for Children outlines the important linkages between health-wealth and children and how these interactions offer better outcomes for children.
Financial Stability Families with savings are less likely to be evicted, miss a payment, receive public benefits or face medical debt. Families with quality health insurance are also more likely to go to doctors and stay in better health.
Safe, Resource-Rich Neighborhoods Families with wealth have more opportunity to live in neighborhoods with access to better food choices, transportation, green spaces, libraries, better resourced schools and less violence. Children growing up in these neighborhoods are overall healthier and have higher incomes as adults.
Toxic Stress Protection Wealth protects families from the stress associated with financial insecurity. Repeated stress over time can result in short-term coping behaviors in children that in turn lead to negative health outcomes as adults.
Less Incarceration Children from families with economic stability and financial assets are less likely to face circumstances that increase the likelihood of incarceration such as disinvested communities, living in neighborhoods with underfunded schools, and chronic unemployment.
The report showcases a wide range of best practices that are demonstrating the bidirectional impact on both a child's health and wealth. These programs often build on existing resources in a community. Thus, they offer philanthropy the opportunity to build on their work through investments that replicate and scale existing programs or pioneer more intentionally integrated strategies to improve either a child's health or wealth or, in some instances, both. The ultimate goal is to pioneer a path so that all children are healthy, financially secure, and live in families with assets regardless of race, income, gender, or zip code.
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