Legacy for Children Program Inproves Health Outcomes with Early Intervention

Legacy for Children is the name of a public health program designed to provide the earliest possible method of prevention and intervention for children who may be at risk for later developmental, social, academic, physical, and mental problems. Because of the high number of children still living in poverty in the United States, federal and health organizations have recognized that it is imperative to address the negative outcomes associated with poverty and poor socioeconomic status at the earliest stages.

It has been well established that children living in poverty at more likely to develop physical health problems like heart disease and obesity than those with more economic advantages. These negative outcomes continue throughout adulthood and result in lower incomes, more reliance on social programs like food stamps and lower levels of education and adjustment.

In an effort to minimize the impact of low socioeconomic status on children, Legacy for Children was created as a way to provide education, outreach, and positive parenting practices to mothers living in poorer communities. The goals of Legacy include improving children’s behavioral, social, and cognitive outcomes.

Jennifer W. Kaminski of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Georgia recently analyzed data from Legacy and some of its enrollees. Kaminski studied mother-and-child pairs at six different times from the when the child was 6 months old through their fifth birthday. Participants were recruited from Miami and Los Angeles for the study.

The results revealed that in Miami, the children in Legacy had fewer reported behavioral problems at 2 years old and were at lower risk for social and emotional issues at 4 months when compared to Miami children not enrolled in Legacy. The children in Los Angeles also benefited with lower levels of hyperactivity. In all, there were 16% fewer children in Los Angeles meeting the criteria for ADHD at age 5 as a result of Legacy, and 16% and 9% fewer with behavioral and socio-emotional problems respectively in Miami.

Kaminski believes that these results demonstrate the effectiveness of early intervention for at risk children and how this type of program can have far reaching positive results. She added, “By preventing the incidence or reducing the severity of early behavior problems, Legacy might have longer reaching impact on later health outcomes and societal costs.”

Kaminski, Jennifer W., PhD, et al. (2013). Behavioral and socioemotional outcomes through age 5 years of the legacy for children public health approach to improving developmental outcomes among children born into poverty. American Journal of Public Health 103.6 (2013): 1058-66. ProQuest. Web.

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  • Leave a Comment


    July 4th, 2013 at 10:31 PM

    I think the takeaway here would be that a focused and early stage program can make a difference.it definitely makes sense to target those most at risk but some of these methods should be distributed widely so parents can themselves adopt them and help their children if they are not reached.electronic and social media can go a long way in propagating this.

  • Regina M

    Regina M

    July 5th, 2013 at 5:47 AM

    If there was a wy that progframs like this could be implemented nationwide, I think that this is where you would start to see the beginning of a wonderful turnaround in our society. I know that there is always quiblling about who is going to pay for what and where the money is com ing from but it is obvious that services such as this are needed and do the entire community good. You would think that no matter how much scratching and saving would have to be done that this would become a priority and more communities with at risk youth would find a wya to make this happen.

  • Lacey Davis

    Lacey Davis

    July 5th, 2013 at 7:06 AM

    I sure do hope that programs like this are starting to gain momentum nationwide because I think that things like this are exactly what is neede fo so many of our young kids today. They are growing up in homes with no supervision and no positive role models. How are they supposed to learn from that environment how to behave and how they are expected to act and contribute? They won’t unless we systematically get programs like this Legacy one on track and have that filtering down to each and every child who could benefit from this type of early intervention. The sooner the problems are addressed the better chance we have to rein them in and keep them from growing even more exponentially.

  • bailey


    July 6th, 2013 at 6:08 AM

    As has been proven OVER and OVER again, we have to find a way to get in early and often to effect any sort of real change with families and children who are at a real risk for failure.
    That’s right I said failure, because this is exactly what will happen if we continue to let them down. They are never going to learn to be of any real benefit to society or how to make a positive contribution if lifelong habits are not stopped within the parents and are not them passed down to the unssupecting children.

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