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An gram of prevention avoids a kilo of cure

The National Association for the Education of Young Children has proclaimed this the Week of the Young Child, aimed at spotlighting not only young children, but also their teachers, families and communities.

That makes it the perfect opportunity to highlight the importance of investing in the early years of our community’s youngsters, recognizing the benefits it will bring for generations.

According to a federal Centers for Disease Control report published in 2015, the United States spends more than $2 trillion a year on healthcare. But an estimated 95 percent of that outlay goes toward providing treatment rather than prevention aiming at avoiding the need for treatment in the first place.

It’s time we generated more awareness and support of preventive programs, particularly those focusing on young children, thus giving us the earliest start.

By supporting investment in evidence-based programs in our homes and schools, we can make a real difference. Fostering a larger measure of preventive health will help our a community better reap the rewards of holistic wellness.

The Yamhill Community Care Organization’s Community Prevention and Wellness Committee is engaged in bringing together community partners to identify worthy evidence-based intervention programs.

It is also working to develop innovative funding models to facilitate investment in these programs, which are designed to address an array of social determinants of health, including transportation, housing, family income, peer support, social support and disparity of opportunity. While we may never be able to eliminate some factors serving to prevent people from receiving quality healthcare and education, we can help pave the way for improvement.

One such initiative is the PAX Good Behavior Game program, currently operating in six Yamhill County school districts. The program improves children’s self-regulation while reducing their psychological and behavioral problems.

More than 30 years of studies have shown this program to be highly effective in increasing graduation rates and decreasing substance abuse, delinquency and even suicidal thinking.

Programs like PAX build protective factors in individuals, families and the larger society, serving to mitigate if not eliminate, risk. They help a community reduce rates of child abuse and neglect.

Protective factors also enable adults to access outside support and help develop coping strategies. That allows them to parent more effectively, even under stress, and build resilience in their children

The YCCO’s Early Learning Hub brings together some of these resources through collaboration among medical providers, educators, social service providers, business interests and law enforcement agencies. Community partners work together to create a coordinated system that supports and strengthens healthy families and prepares children to start kindergarten ready to succeed.

You may be asking what part you can play in what may seem like an insurmountable task.

Many opportunities are available to invest in, assist with and materially support these worthy initiatives. You might consider volunteering in the schools, donating food children can take home for weekend meals, providing direct financial support or backing tax measures aimed at helping fund programs.

You might also consider joining one of the local Service Integration Teams, which meet monthly in participating school districts to address the concrete needs of individuals and families otherwise falling through the cracks. For more information, visit https://yamhillcco.org/about-us/service-integration-teams.

We can all make a difference in protecting our children, strengthening our families and building up the community we share.

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