• June 2012
  • Vol. 13, No. 5

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Policies That Promote Well-Being

Policymakers at the State level can promote well-being in children and families through legislation and policies that prevent and address social, emotional, and behavioral health disorders. A recent paper from the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) offers research-informed, results-based policy strategies that can help States evaluate their data on children's well-being and then implement evidence-based strategies to address problems. The paper, Promoting Children's Social, Emotional and Behavioral Health, also offers State examples that illustrate how different jurisdictions have addressed child well-being.

The paper notes three factors associated with children's poor social, emotional, and behavioral health: poverty, trauma, and inadequate treatment. Research also points to two factors associated with good mental health: reaching developmental milestones and having a supportive family. These factors help to drive the strategies that policymakers can use to improve child well-being.

The paper urges States to review their data on children with social, emotional, and behavioral health problems, note trends, compare the data to those of other States and the nation as a whole, and then set targets for improvement. Three evidence-based strategies are described for improving child well-being:

  • Promote early childhood social and emotional development, such as through Kansas's expansion of Early Head Start
  • Prevent social, emotional, and behavioral health disorders, such as through Delaware's child welfare and early intervention program that established policies for referring children involved in cases of abuse or neglect
  • Connect the specialized needs of children with appropriate services, such as Florida's pilot program in Miami-Dade County, which addressed the mental health needs of young children and their families involved with child welfare

The paper also discusses how to implement the strategies so that they are effective and sustainable, and it outlines ways to monitor and evaluate program results. Financing options are outlined, including Federal monies and public-private partnerships.

Access Promoting Children's Social, Emotional and Behavioral Health on the Policy for Results section of the CSSP website:

http://www.cssp.org/policy/papers/Promote-Childrens-Social-Emotional-and-Behavioral-Health.pdf (236 KB)

The Policy for Results web section includes supplementary material on this topic:


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