Everyone has a different definition of what it means to “be healthy.” That could mean exercising or eating healthy foods; it could mean taking vitamins or going to annual well checks. In broad terms, being “healthy” means making choices that improve your overall health.
Choosing to Prioritize Health
Making healthy choices becomes challenging when you’re dealing with other life obstacles.
It can be hard to exercise or prioritize self-care when you’re balancing more than one job.
It can be hard to buy healthy foods when finances are tight and you’re just worrying about getting food on the table, any food at all.
It can be hard to make it to well checks if gas money and co-pays get in the way.
When you’re facing lots of barriers, sometimes your health gets de-prioritized. But for many of our families, that can be detrimental. Through all of our programs, we help families understand that not prioritizing your family’s health has a larger effect.
We know it’s hard! Navigating the healthcare system, insurance and doctor appointments is difficult for anyone. We aim to reduce barriers to health services by providing therapies in the home, as well as supporting families in identifying their options, connecting to community resources and interpreting the confusing systems they need to wade through.
Beyond Our Individual Choices
In addition to the personal health choices we make, communities and the environments in which we live play a big role in an individual’s health. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotionidentifies social determinants of health, which are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age:
- Availability of resources to meet daily needs (e.g., safe housing and local food markets)
- Access to educational, economic, and job opportunities
- Access to health care services
- Availability of community-based resources
- Public safety
- Social support
- Social norms and attitudes (e.g., discrimination, racism)
- Exposure to crime, violence, and social disorder
- Socioeconomic conditions
- And many more
These social determinants are systemic and affect a person’s potential to live a healthy life. The 2019 Texas legislative session brought light to many issues that affect how our community is (or isn’t) prioritizing healthy families, including maternal health and early childhood policies, among others.
Alongside our partners and other community leaders, Any Baby Can is committed to affecting change that leads to a healthier future for all families.
Need for Community Intervention
Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), for example, has shown reductions in risk factors and an increase in protective factors for mothers and children. Through NFP, for every 1,000 families served, nearly 250 child maltreatment cases can be avoided and 3 infants are saved from death (source: Home Visiting in Texas, 2017).
Our Healthy and Fair Start program uses the Parents as Teachers curriculum with reported outcomes including (source: Parents as Teachers National Center, Inc. 2019):
- Children in Parents as Teachers are less likely to go to the emergency room to be treated for injury.
- Over 75 percent of participants in Parents as Teachers reported taking their child to the library regularly and modeling enjoyment of reading and writing.
- Parents as Teachers participation was related to 50 percent fewer cases of suspected abuse and neglect.
- Parents as Teachers parents were more likely to enroll their children in preschool, attend parent-teacher conferences, PTA/PTO meetings and school events, volunteer in the classroom, talk with their children’s teacher and assist with their children’s homework.
Nurturing Parenting, which is the curriculum offered in our parenting classes, reports outcomes in lowering the rate of teenage pregnancies, reducing juvenile delinquency, and stopping the cycle of child abuse. (source: Nurturing Parenting Programs and Over 30 Years of Evidence, 2014).
When systemic conditions impede a family’s ability to live their healthiest life, programs like these can make the difference in a child’s life and for future generations.
Our Role in Prioritizing Healthy Families
While the health journey is very different for many of our clients—especially for the pregnant mothers we serve and families who have children with challenging medical diagnoses—we know that for our community to truly prioritize health, it will require individuals, nonprofits, health care systems and many other players to work together. Through our various programs, Any Baby Can is able to:
- Provide information and tools to help families make healthy decisions.
- Support families as they navigate systems and resources.
- Coordinate with medical professionals on behalf of our clients.
- Promote stability and planning for the future.
- Focus on whole family well-being, including both physical health and mental health.
- Engage with state and local government to advance policies and initiatives that prioritize health for families.
Health is a central part of our work and of family well-being. And yet it is just a piece of what we aspire to with our vision: A community that empowers parents, prioritizes healthy families, and invests in child development. Read more about our vision and how Any Baby Can is empowering parents.