Health & Well Being
Reproductive health refers to a state of comprehensive health in all things relating to the reproductive system, including physical, mental, emotional, and social health. It also includes access to relevant information, health care, and the ability to make decisions about family planning. Furthermore, women who decide to have children must have the ability and access to make free choices about their health care during pregnancy, delivery, and after the baby is born. Root Cause addresses the presence of reproductive health in different stages of life, from infancy to old age, and that a lack of it exacerbates poverty and inequality in the communities we hope to empower. It is because of this that we focus our efforts on working with our partners to get people access to the resources they need in order to have good reproductive health.
Prenatal health involves the health of both the mother and baby during pregnancy. Healthy habits during pregnancy include getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, avoiding behaviors and environments that can be harmful to the baby, and getting regular prenatal care. Prenatal care includes but is not limited to regular checkups, prenatal testing, vaccines, management of any existing health conditions, and delivery preparations. Root Cause recognizes the importance of a healthy birth as a vital part of the pathway to lifelong success—and a healthy birth begins with a healthy pregnancy.
Early Relational Health
Early relational health (ERH) comprises of healthy interactions and relationship building with family and caregivers from birth to age 3. These relationships can include parents, extended family, and other caregivers present in the child’s life, and are fundamental to a child’s growth and development. ERH lays the foundation for effective social-emotional abilities, early learning, and future healthy living with a focus on positive family engagement, social support, equity, and maternal and family well being.
Early Childhood Health
Health in early childhood lays the foundation for many other positive physical and developmental processes later in life. Factors of success such as school readiness and emotional and mental development all build on the foundation of early childhood health. There are many risks that could cause disruption to early childhood health during the prenatal period and earliest years of life, including exposure of expectant mothers to highly stressful environments and traumatic experiences to the child in the earliest developmental phases of their life. A large barrier to healthy early childhood development is a lack of education on best practices and access to resources. Through work to increase transparency and accessibility to health and education resources and opportunities for families, Root Cause helps eradicate barriers to healthy early childhood development.
Early Childhood Systems of Care
Children’s early years form the foundation for their academic, social, and emotional success. To ensure success for all children, communities must create integrated early childhood systems that support the holistic development of the child. However, early childhood service providers often face challenges in functioning effectively and cohesively with each other. To avoid “siloed” and redundant efforts, effective systems of care maintain networks and coordinate services for greater impact and support. Early childhood systems encompass a wide range of services and specialists across sectors, including primary, prenatal, and perinatal health care; child care, Head Start programs, and early intervention workers; developmental therapists; food and nutrition; parenting programs; public benefits; and social services and child welfare workers. Root Cause works with service providers to coordinate and align early childhood services in a community, improve service quality, and engage community members as partners in strengthening their system of care.
Social Determinants of Health
Social determinants of health (SDOH) are a subsection of broader determinants of health. These are factors that contribute to how well an individual handles transitions along their pathway of life; from cradle to career and eventually, end of life. These factors comprise areas of life such as health, neighborhood and community relationships, education, and financial stability, all of which have potential to affect an individual’s chance at a healthy lifestyle. Much of Root Cause’s work supports actions aimed to reduce the health inequities caused by social factors like socioeconomic conditions, exposure to violence, lack of quality housing, and lack of access to educational and economic opportunities.
Social & Emotional Development
Social and emotional development describes the way children learn to understand, express, and manage emotions and develop and sustain positive and healthy relationships with others. Social and emotional development relies heavily on the relationships and interactions that children have with parents and/or caregivers from an early age. Creating a loving, nurturing, and consistent environment for a child allows them to feel safe and comfortable, further promoting their ability to develop a sense of confidence and self, as well as developing key skills such as trust, empathy, and an understanding of others. Social and emotional development can also influence other aspects of a child’s life, such as school readiness and limit the amount of additional resources needed in later stages of life. Root Cause works with partners to strengthen programs and services that support healthy social and emotional development, so that children may experience success, and most importantly, support in all their stages of development.
Healthy aging can be holistically defined by a combination of three core criteria in older adulthood:
- Promoting health, minimizing risk of disease and disability, and effectively managing chronic conditions
- Maintaining a high level of physical and mental functioning
- Active social and civic engagement
While the term “older adulthood” is generally associated with age 65 (the age at which individuals become eligible for Social Security in the U.S.), individuals may find themselves identifying as an older adult at earlier or later ages, depending on their personal experiences of age-related changes. Like every life-stage, older adulthood is marked by unique experiences, transitions, and challenges. Root Cause helps its partners create conditions for people to achieve healthy aging milestones including living longer and healthier lives, being more financially secure, and maintaining strong social bonds in the community.