Healthy Children

At Georgia Family Connection, we want to see children born healthy—and stay healthy—so they can succeed in school and in life. We’re working across Georgia to keep children healthy through three statewide initiatives:

WIC Matters Cohort

What’s Happening

The USDA’s Special Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a critical service for families with young children. WIC provides nutritional foods and nutrition education and health care referrals to low-income pregnant, breast-feeding, and postpartum women and children birth to 5 years old. Use of WIC services has been declining in Georgia and across the country over the past several years. In support of our Department of Public Health WIC partners, a group of nine Georgia Family Connection Collaboratives are working together with WIC to help ensure that all eligible women are informed about, enroll in, and actively use the program’s valuable resources.

Early, Emanuel, Butts, Fulton, Meriwether, Lamar, Liberty, Lowndes, and Rockdale counties are crafting creative approaches at the local level to increase knowledge and use of WIC fruit and vegetable vouchers, access to healthy fruit and vegetable choices, and nutrition education to help inform food choices. GaFCP works closely with WIC to ensure that all local projects adhere to state and federal WIC guidelines.

Early Childhood Health and Education Cohort

What’s Happening

Early childhood experiences lay the foundation for future success in school, work, family, and community. Our Early Childhood Health and Education cohort counties are working together to implement county-specific strategies to address the needs of children birth to age 8 and their families. Twelve Georgia Family Connection county Collaboratives are developing and implementing Early Childhood Health and Education strategies that fit the needs of their communities to help children be healthy, ready to start school, and read on grade level by third grade.

Baldwin, Newton, Washington, Polk, Charlton, and Seminole counties, involved since 2013, have established a team of key partners who are working to implement their Early Childhood Health and Education strategies. Fulton, Crisp, Hancock, Terrell, Emanuel and Elbert counties began their strategy development work in 2015.

Low Birthweight Prevention Cohort

What’s Happening

The rate of low-birthweight (LBW) infants born in Georgia climbed to 9.6 percent in 2006—the highest level in 30 years—and peaked at 9.8 percent in 2010. Infants born to non-Hispanic Black women have the highest rate of LBW, 13.1 percent, which is two or more times greater than for infants born to women of other race and ethnic groups.

We at Georgia Family Connection Partnership have been working since 2009 to increase awareness of LBW and evidence-based programs to address this serious issue. Our LBW Cohort engages Collaboratives in Heard, Lamar, Spalding, Butts, and Meriwether counties. They have developed—and are implementing—strategies to lower the LBW rate in their communities in partnership with Public Health, WIC, and other key local partners.

Childhood Obesity Prevention and Food Access

What’s Happening

Georgia has the 17th highest rate of childhood obesity in the United States. It can be difficult to provide healthy food choices for lower-income families where fast food is the only option. Georgia Family Connection Partnership is working with communities to increase the opportunities for families and young children to have access to nutrition education and healthy food choices.

Our Early Childhood Health and Education (EC-HEED) cohort and the Childhood Obesity Prevention Program (COPP) partner cohort are focused on addressing policy, systems, and environmental changes that are needed in communities across our state.

Communities are increasing opportunities to address obesity and hunger, including greater access to neighborhood and school gardens, opportunities for biking and walking, cooking education, and farmers markets that offer affordable local nutritious foods.