Giving Every Child a Strong Start

In the fall of 1933, when David Packard and Lucile Salter first met, Lucile was a volunteer at the Stanford Convalescent Home for Children, a facility that treated children with tuberculosis. Lucile cared deeply for the health and wellbeing of children, and over the next few decades she would greatly expand her commitment to children’s causes. Eventually, she would become chair of the board of the Children’s Health Council and work closely with the Stanford Convalescent Home to help it evolve into what is now known as the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.

Throughout their lives, both David and Lucile demonstrated how much they cared about others and the community around them. In 1964, they established this Foundation to promote positive, lasting change in the areas they cared most about—including children, families, and their local community. Fifty years later, through many long-term partnerships forged with our grantees and collaborating partners, we’ve made significant progress toward their vision.

Today, 93 percent of our nation’s children are insured. In our home state of California, we know that the 4-year-olds who need it most have access to preschool, Head Start, and Transitional Kindergarten.

Even with those gains, there is much more work left to be done. We are at a very important moment in time where we must solidify the gains we have made, deliver results, and push to make our children healthy and ready to learn when they enter kindergarten. This is why the Foundation continues to work, in close collaboration with our grantees and partners, to make it possible for all children to have access to health care and quality early learning opportunities so they can be healthy, ready for school, and on track to reach their full potential.

This week, the Foundation’s Children, Families, and Communities Program unveiled a ten-year strategy to help achieve this vision. The launch event, Starting Smart, was inspiring, and included words of wisdom from both Kim Belshé, executive director of First 5 Los Angeles, and Jeff Bradach, co-founder and managing partner of The Bridgespan Group, along with a distinguished panel of guests. We even got a surprise visit from Sesame Street’s very own Elmo!

We know the foundations of a lifetime of health and learning are built in the first five years of a child’s life—so we’re working to give every child a strong start by empowering the adults in children’s lives to provide healthcare and quality early learning opportunities. Our goal is for children to be ready to succeed in school by age five—with good health, self-confidence, social skills, and a love of learning.

To achieve this we must build the knowledge and skills of adults who care for children. Parents, family members, and caregivers in the community need to know how to engage children and create environments in which they grow, learn and are healthy. Teachers, professional caregivers, and health providers must know how to assess, plan for, and provide enriching experiences. The video below introduces these core concepts and shows why the Foundation is focusing on this important work.

Starting Smart