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The health and prosperity of our families, communities, and nation require an investment in the physical and emotional health of our young children.
Nationwide, grantees are pioneering new ways to promote young child wellness through Project LAUNCH, a federal initiative funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The population of focus is children ages birth to 8. The goal is for all children to enter school with the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical skills they need to succeed.
Over 5 years, Project LAUNCH communities increase the quality and availability of evidence-based programs for children and families, improve collaboration among child-serving organizations, and integrate physical and behavioral health services and supports. Lessons learned from communities guide systems changes and policy improvements at the state, territorial and tribal levels, such as implementing universal screening efforts and integrated data systems. Strong partnerships lead to the sustainability and replication of successful practices on a large scale and to systems improvements lasting beyond the life of the grant.
Project LAUNCH grantees are guided by Young Child Wellness Councils, which bring families and public and private partners together to improve policies, programs, and approaches to using data and funds effectively. Each Project LAUNCH community implements a core set of five prevention and promotion strategies drawn from current research (see side panel). In addition to providing direct services, Project LAUNCH communities increase knowledge about healthy child development through public education campaigns and cross-disciplinary workforce development.
A cornerstone of Project LAUNCH is the federal-level partnership between SAMHSA, the Administration for Children and Families, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.