Without any doubt, prevention is the best medicine.
In both personal behavior and public policy priorities, keeping bad things from happening is not only wise, it’s potentially life-saving.
For more than 40 years, it has been my honor to advocate for tried and true policies, programs and practices for children which reduce risk and enhance success.
In so many ways, our children’s health and well-being depends on us doing our best to avoid problems before they bring negative results. From the earliest stages of life, access to prenatal care enhances the likelihood of a healthy birth. The research is clear and convincing…early health care in pregnancy minimizes newborn distress and reduces infant mortality.
We have learned so much about early brain development and the importance of providing positive sensory experiences to enhance emotional well-being and pave the way for educational success. Babies are smart in so many ways. When they receive the attention they crave, are properly fed and lovingly cared for, they learn that they are safe and secure. When they are ignored, neglected or suffer violence, they perceive their world to be an unsafe and frightening place.
Innovative neurological research tells us that the majority of brain growth and development occurs years before kindergarten. Realizing that our homes are our first school rooms recognizes the vital importance of the early years. That is why timely education and support services for new parents and affordable high-quality early learning opportunities in the community are so essential for our children’s educational futures.
I doubt that anyone would dismiss these realities as unimportant, but it’s up to all of us as individuals, family members, neighbors and citizens to do all we can to create opportunities for our youngest to survive, thrive and succeed.
When it comes to children, it’s not whether we pay; it’s when. Investing in success is far better than paying the high costs of failure. Not only does an ounce of prevention avoid a pound of cure…it far outweighs a ton of punishment.
My experience tells me that a “whole child, whole family and whole community” approach to assuring that prudent investments in quality care should be made when they produce the best chance for social dividends to accrue.
As we approach the final days of 2020, a year which will surely be judged as one which challenged all of us to be alert to the dangers we face by ignoring good advice, let’s resolve to be strong advocates for building a bridge that connects what we know with what we do to assure a brighter future...for our children and the boarder society.
With the availability vaccines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on the horizon, let’s recognize that many other social, health, educational and economic ills can be prevented through investments in timely research-proven policies and programs.
While I consider myself an optimist by nature, it’s clear to me that the good things we hope for don’t just happen. We have such great opportunities to act as responsible parents, grandparents, and community leaders to become ardent and assertive advocates for progress.
Let’s resolve to make 2021 a year when we leverage the best knowledge to create better futures for our loved ones at home and for the many others whose names we don’t know, but in many ways affect us and our economy.
When all is said, most important is what gets done. Please join me in supporting advocacy organizations, family service agencies and thoughtful policy leaders who make the power of prevention their top priority.
Jack Levine, founder of the 4Generatinos Institute, is a Tallahassee-based family policy advocate. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.