Healthy children ready to learn: An essential collaboration between health and education

A. C. Novello, C. Degraw, D. V. Kleinman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The 'Healthy Children Ready to Learn' initiative starts with the underlying concept that health is a critical partner to optimum education. All children have a right to be healthy. At a minimum, this right assumes promoting optimum use of available and effective preventive measures, such as ensuring compliance with immunization recommendations; promoting measures to prevent injuries; ensuring opportunities to identify disease and disabilities early; and providing prompt treatment when needed. Families must receive the support and assistance they need to raise healthy and educated children. Activities directed toward National Education Goals and the related National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives can advance progress toward school readiness, focus attention and available resources on needed programs and services, and thus help the nation in achieving its goal of having all children arriving at school each day healthy, well nourished, and ready to learn. To realize these goals and objectives, the two critical systems of greatest importance to children, those providing health services and education, need to collaborate, not only among themselves, but also with social services. A range of critical health problems will require our attention if the goals are to be met, such as availability of prenatal care, infant mortality, inadequate nutrition during pregnancy or early childhood, or both, disease prevention by immunization, infants who have been exposed to drugs, fetal alcohol syndrome, and the emotional and mental disorders of early childhood, to name a few. At any one time, any family may be in need of appropriate services. To address the health and well-being of their young children, a continuum of appropriate, accessible services must be available in the community. The first steps toward successful achievement of the readiness goal will require the identification of health, education, and social service programs that serve young children and their families, and the creation of a climate that fosters innovative and effective collaboration between programs at the Federal and State levels, especially as it pertains to the community. Policies and programs should be built around the needs of families. In this regard, the critical role that parents play in shaping a healthy environment conducive to school readiness must be recognized as a key element in shaping the strategies that should help in achieving the readiness goal. Similarly important is the need to engage professional organizations and other private sector groups involved with health, education, and other children's issues to work with government and families to achieve the school readiness goal and its related health objectives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-15
Number of pages13
JournalPublic Health Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


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