NEWS: HEALTH GAP, RWJF IN DC: Commission to Build Healthier America, 6/19

June 19, 2013

RWJF CommissionersThe Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to “Build a Healthier America” met in Washington, D.C. on June 19, 2013 to hear testimony from leading experts on how best to support health in communities and health during early childhood. Eight experts from across the country provided testimony to the commission.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), led by President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, is the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted solely to the public’s health. In 2009 RWJF released their report, Beyond Health Care: New Directions to a Healthier America, with 10 recommendations for improving the health of the nation.

TESTIMONY ON EARLY CHILDHOOD

Investing in children who can then grow up to be more productive and contributing members of society is a better strategy for long-term economic development. –Arthur J. Rolnick, PhD, Human Capital Research Collaborative

Improving outcomes for young children starts with improving family stability and economic mobility in families. We need holistic mentoring programs that teach goal-setting and decision-making skills, and rewards outcomes instead of activities. –Elisabeth D. Babcok, MCRP, PhD, Crittenton Women’s Union

To level the playing field, early childhood education needs to start at birth—or earlier, reach the most at-risk children first, and insist on quality care and education. Combining and linking practice, policy, and knowledge building is the best way forward. –Jessie Rasmussen & Michael Burke, Buffet Early Childhood Fund

Investing in young children builds the base for lifelong health promotion and disease prevention in addition to school readiness and academic achievement. We need to protect children from toxic stress and the biological consequences that come with it. –Jack P. Shonkoff, MD, Center on the Developing Child

TESTIMONY ON HEALTHY COMMUNITIES

To overcome the disconnect between community development and health we need an organization to be the connector, translator, leader, collector, and disseminator of existing knowledge and models. –David Erickson, PhD, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Combatting poverty requires investment in both place and people. Community development financial institutions (CDFI) are key partners in achieving healthy communities, healthy families, and economic opportunity and mobility. –Nancy O. Andrews, Low Income Investment Fund

We see huge disparities in life expectancy at county and census track levels. To fix this, we need to invest resources.

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