Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy

Health Equity

Baby visiting doctor

Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. But achieving health equity requires the removal of obstacles to health, like poverty, discrimination, and powerlessness, and the increase in access to health-promoting resources and opportunities, like safe and healthy neighborhoods, living-wage jobs, quality education and housing, and health care. Our commitment to achieving optimal health outcomes for children and vulnerable groups grounds all of our research, practice, and policy action.

Health is the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or wellness. Researchers at the Institute advance health equity by examining the structural, social, and policy mechanisms that underpin the health of children. By examining neighborhood and racial inequities in access to early childhood education, childcare subsidies for working parents, and other safety net programs, researchers at ICYFP utilize social determinants of health, racial equity, child equity, and other perspectives to integrate research and policy.

All children deserve to live in happy and healthy conditions, yet Black and Hispanic children and children in immigrant families often live in areas that are not conducive to healthy development. Our work provides a foundation for local, state, and federal decision-makers to correct the lack of equity for children and their families. Likewise, our longstanding health-in-all-policies approach to children and families acknowledges that achieving child equity requires the coordination of multiple determinants of health, including neighborhoods, affordable housing, nutrition, education, literacy, mental health, and family well-being.

Our work considers the multi-level and intersectional ways race, gender identity and sexuality, poverty and disability impact research, practice, policy design and application. This includes examining racial and ethnic inequities in preschool enrollment, neighborhood access to Head Start, and the impact of unpaid family leave on Black and Hispanic families.