SECTIONS: Background ~ Child and Family ~ Ages and Stages ~ What You Can Do
Bright Futures recognizes that a community contributes to the health and well-being of families who live there. Communities are more than just the people in your neighborhood. They include health and social services, schools, local government, and other resources. These services affect the quality of life for all who live there.
- People: How "connected" are you to others in your community? You canhelp ensure the health and well-being of your family by building relationships with neighbors, health providers, teachers, coaches, town officials, and others. When you are active in your community, you are more aware of available resources - before you need them. And, you will be able to offer support to others. Who can you count on for support? Who can count on you?
- Resources: Does your community provide the resources your family needs? Is there easy access to medical care? Are there schools, libraries and safe places to play? Are there community activities for children and teens? Do you know where to buy healthy, affordable food? Are there buses, subways or trains so you can get places you need to go?
- Quality of Life: Does your community feel safe? Are residents and town officials aware of problems? Do people work together to find solutions? Are there fun, safe activities that support healthy lifestyles? These might be outdoor concerts in a park, accessible walking trails for individuals with disabilities, volunteer transportation for those needing rides, and job fairs to help the unemployed. This helps create a sense of community and helps make life better for everyone.
Child and Family
You are the most important resource for your children. But, at times, all families can benefit from outside help. That help may come from a resource or service in your community. What supports do you need to be a good parent or family member? Some communities can help you identify child care. Many schools offer parenting workshops. You might need food assistance or housing. Immigrant families might want help learning the language. Families raising children with special health needs might need support groups. Some communities offer free mental health screenings, legal counseling or other services.
Ages and Stages
- Infancy: Family and other caregivers provide the most support to growing infants. In turn, families and caregivers need support, resources and information to guide them in their roles. For many families, having good, affordable childcare is very important.
- Early Childhood: Help young children learn about their community - the people, places, and resources that are part of daily life. Find out about childcare and early education programs. Visit the library. Explore the parks and playgrounds. These are great places for social and recreational activities for children, as well as opportunities for parents to meet and share with other parents.
- Middle Childhood: Five to ten year olds are usually ready to participate in activities outside of their families. They may want to ride bikes or play with friends at other community locations. Are there bike trails and safe places for children to play?
- Adolescence: School and spending time with friends are still priorities, but your teen's interests may be changing. Some may want to get part-time jobs. Others will be learning to drive. Work with your community to meet teens' needs. Provide space for them to hang out. Create volunteer opportunities that support healthy lifestyles. Make sure they have access to mental health resources and supports.
- Special Health Needs: Many organizations provide information, resources, referrals and support to families raising children and youth with special health needs. A Family-to-Family Health Information Center in your state may be able to help you.
What Can Families Do to Promote Community Relationships & Resources?
As you identify your family's needs and strengths, think about what you can contribute to the health and wellbeing of your community. Your family and others benefit when you work to improve the resources in your community.
- Identify resources you need and work to find them.
- Work with others to improve the resources available to your family and others. If you have a need, ask for help. Bringing attention to an issue helps your family, and may help others too.
- Help young children learn about community. Say hello to the mail carrier, smile at the librarians, talk to the grocery store clerk, and wave to the lady next door.
- Look for ways to involve children in the community. Young children might help clean up a park. Older children might join a community sports team. Teens may be interested in working for a political candidate, trying out for a community drama production, volunteering at the local Y, or helping with a community fundraiser.
- Talk to your health care provider about resources you need. Share resources you know about that can help others. For example, if you've found a new support group or funds to help pay for childcare, low interest loans, or equipment swaps or exchanges to help families save money, others will benefit, too.