How can we promote safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for healthy development?

What drives early childhood wellbeing?

Conditions for healthy beginnings include, but are not limited to, social support from family and teachers, economic stability, education, a safe neighborhood that includes parks, and comprehensive health care that begins before a child is born. Creating the right conditions for child development, by promoting safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments can make a difference in children’s health early on and throughout life.2

Many studies suggest that changes which improve family, caregiver and neighborhood circumstances in the earliest years of a child’s life have the best chance of putting a child on a strong developmental path—emotionally, intellectually and socially. 2

Quick Facts

  • Child wellbeing in the U.S. has fallen to 26 out of 29 developed nations.1
  • 60% of American children were exposed to violence, crime, or abuse in their homes, schools and communities.3
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are traumatic events that occur before the age of 18.5 In California, over 60% of adults have experienced at least one ACE and one in six have experienced four or more ACEs.4
  • ACEs have a cumulative impact on long term health. Research has demonstrated that the more ACEs an individual is exposed to, the higher the risk for adverse health outcomes throughout life.6

The Opportunity

How can we build solutions that increase child and adolescent wellbeing by addressing the drivers mentioned above, as well as other community factors, to create safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for children to grow and mature into thriving adults?

What’s being done?

Here are just a few examples of efforts underway at the state and local level to address this issue:

State Efforts

Talk. Read. Sing.
The First 5 California Commission for Children and Families launched a statewide media campaign that encourages parents and caregivers to talk, read, and sing to babies and toddlers. First 5 California provides information on the importance of early brain development, activity suggestions, and support resources to help parents of children 5 and under.

[Read more]

California Essentials for Childhood Initiative
The California Essentials for Childhood Initiative addresses child maltreatment as a public health issue. This initiative seeks to seek to address all
social determinants that influence child and family wellbeing as a way to prevent child maltreatment and promote healthy communities, with a focused on shared responsibility to assure that all children in the State of California reach their full potential. [Read more]

Local Efforts

Bright Beginnings – Ventura County
Bright Beginnings is a program developed to create a healthy start for newborns and their mothers within the first 6-8 weeks after birth, and a 2015 Innovation Challenge Finalist. Participation in this program is available to all women who reside in Ventura County that give birth at participating hospitals, and the program hopes to expand to all birthing hospitals in the county in the future. Bright Beginnings is a 2015 Innovation Challenge finalist. [Read more]

Links and Resources


  1. UNICEF Office of Research (2013). ‘Child Well-being in Rich Countries: A comparative overview’, Innocenti Report Card 11, UNICEF Office of Research, Florence.
  2. California Department of Public Health. (2015, November 6). Essentials for Childhood Initiative: Safe, Stable, Nurturing Relationships and Environments. Retrieved December 24, 2015, from
  3. U.S. Department of Justice . (2014, October 22). Facts about Children and Violence. Retrieved December 24, 2015, from
  4. Center for Youth Wellness. (n.d.). Findings on Adverse Childhood Experiences in California. Retrieved December 24, 2015, from
  5. California Newsreel. (2015). The Raising of America. Retrieved December 24, 2015, from
  6. Relationship of Childhood Abuse and Household Dysfunction to Many of the Leading Causes of Death in Adults Felitti, Vincent J et al. American Journal of Preventive Medicine , Volume 14 , Issue 4 , 245 – 258, from