Children, Families, and Communities

Children’s Health

Children’s brains and bodies grow rapidly in the first five years. We work to guarantee children and families access to quality care that keeps kids healthy and gives them a strong start in life.

All children should receive the supports they need to grow up healthy, curious, happy, and ready to learn. In fact, the foundations for a lifetime of health and learning are built in the first five years of a child’s life. This is the time when children’s brains and bodies grow rapidly and language, cognitive, social, and emotional skills develop. Children learn to form relationships, experience and regulate emotions, and explore the world around them.

During these crucial years, children need a strong circle of caring adults around them who can provide responsive, nurturing relationships and health, developmental, and nutritional support to ensure each child can thrive and reach their full potential.

Both in California and at the national level, we view each touchpoint a family has with the community – including schools, child care programs, doctor’s offices, and other places where they can access resources – as an opportunity to help parents and caregivers give children a strong start. Promoting children’s health and preventing disease must take place throughout the community in which children and families live, work, and play.

To achieve these goals, our children’s health grantmaking strategy includes a diverse set of approaches, all aimed at strengthening this web of support. We invest in federal and state advocacy, research and policy analysis, litigation, and communications to raise the awareness of the importance of health care and nutrition in supporting children’s healthy development. We also support innovation and quality improvement initiatives to improve the way health systems deliver services and promote the health and well-being of children and families.

We are working to:

  • Ensure equitable access to comprehensive primary health care services for children in their first five years that are family-centered, coordinated, compassionate, and culturally competent.
  • Achieve universal, comprehensive health insurance coverage for children and parents by defending and working to expand access to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
  • Advance research, policies, and innovations that leverage the health care sector to foster healthy social and emotional development in babies and toddlers and support positive parent-child relationships.
  • Improve caregiver understanding of what it means to support optimal child health, as well as social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development.
  • Encourage regular preventative health, developmental, and behavioral screenings to learn about and celebrate developmental milestones; identify any delays and challenges early; and provide families with supports and services as needed so all children stay on track for success.
  • Support families in accessing healthy food, nutrition education, and other resources through programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
  • Create lasting, meaningful partnerships between experts and advocates across a range of fields like early learning, early intervention, family support, and health to support healthy child development.

Project Highlight

Coverage and Access: Insuring America’s Children by Getting to the Finish Line

Supporting state-based advocacy organizations that are defending and advancing policies that support comprehensive health coverage and improve access to quality health care services for children and their families.

Quality and Innovation: Pediatrics Supporting Parents

Supporting pediatric well-visits as opportunities for pediatricians and parents to partner to promote young children’s social and emotional development and nurture parent-child relationships.

Our People

Meera Mani

Vice President, Families and Communities

Katherine Beckmann

Program Officer

Deborah Kong

Program Officer

How to Get Support

The Children, Families, and Communities Program is not accepting unsolicited proposals, but welcomes your ideas for funding requests. Before you send a request, please review this page. If your work is aligned with the program strategy and geographic focus, please send your request using the form here.