Children who are healthy and prepared to learn do better in school, an early learning expert said during a forum this week in Kennewick.
“And when they’re more successful in school, they’re more likely to complete school and then want a higher education” said Carla Prock, preventative health services supervisor for the Benton-Franklin Health District.
“And when our adults are better educated, they’re much more likely to have decreased mental and physical health problems that lead to chronic disease and chronic illness,” Prock said.
Prock also is chairwoman of the Benton Franklin Early Learning Alliance.
She was one of several experts who spoke on topics in the fields of education, safety, health and self-sufficiency during the United Way of Benton and Franklin Counties’ 2014 Community Health & Human Services forum.
The speakers provided data, reported on trends and challenges and discussed ways the community can help.
The Tuesday event at the Three Rivers Convention Center drew around 150 people — a mix of nonprofit and faith leaders, government officials and others.
Prock noted that when measured across multiple dimensions, the well-being of kids in the U.S. ranked 26th out of 29 large nations.
“In order to figure out why this is, we need to address what’s causing this high (amount) of advantage for some and a cascade of risk for others throughout their lifetime,” Prock said, noting that many risk factors in early childhood are linked to poverty, household dysfunction and abuse and neglect.
She highlighted programs in the Tri-Cities that help during that critical time, from Our Babies Can’t Wait — an initiative that grew out of the United Way-led Community Solutions — to the health district’s Nurse-Family Partnership. That program has nurse home visitors working with low-income, first-time mothers.
Other speakers touched on topics from gang activity to human trafficking, elder abuse, mental health access and income stability.
It was the forum’s second year. The annual event is aimed at updating the community and providing information to help nonprofits, businesses and jurisdictions in decision making. It also helps build connections among leaders in different fields, officials have said.
That was the case this year, said Michele Roth, United Way communications director. Attendees are “saying they realized who other partners in the community could be — how they could work together, who they should be contacting to tackle some of the challenges.”
Those who missed the event will soon be able to watch it through Charter TV and online through the United Way’s website. The organization also plans to post materials from the presentations on its site, www.unitedway-bfco.com.