Newly released: Recommendations from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America. Time to Act: Investing in the Health of Our Children and Communities calls for action on early childhood, healthy communities, and bridging health and health care. Read the report and explore the charts, infographics, and videos at

Early Childhood

The early years of life set us on paths leading toward – or away from – good health. Brain, cognitive and behavioral development early in life are strongly linked to health later in life including risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, smoking, drug use and depression.  Family income, education, neighborhood resources as well as other social and economic factors affect health at every stage of life, but the effects on young children are particularly dramatic.  While all parents want the best for their children, not all parents have the same resources to help their children grow up healthy.  To improve children’s chances of leading long and healthy lives, the Commission recommends:

RECOMMENDATION: Ensure that all children have high-quality early developmental support (child care, education and other services).  This will require committing substantial additional resources to meet the early developmental needs particularly of children in low-income families.  Children who do not receive high-quality care, services and education begin life with a distinct disadvantage and a higher risk of becoming less healthy adults, and evidence is overwhelming that too many children are facing a lifetime of poorer health as a result. Helping every child reach full health potential requires strong support from parents and communities, and must be a top priority for the nation. New resources must be directed to this goal, even at the expense of other national priorities, and must be tied to greater measurement and accountability for impact of new and existing early childhood programs.

North Carolina’s STARS
In 2000, North Carolina launched the 5-Star Child Care License system (STARS) to raise awareness and help parents assess the quality of child care programs. Read more

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