River Region United Way works for a healthier America
Whether it is a neighbor without health insurance, a victim of abuse, or someone struggling with mental illness or an addiction, United Ways are working to ensure everyone has access to affordable and quality care.
Since 2008, we’ve been working to achieve the United Way Worldwide's bold, 10-year goal: to increase by one-third the number of youth and adults who are healthy and avoid risky behaviors by 2018.
Achieving our goal requires us all to become more aware of health risks and the potential effects they have on ourselves and others, starting from before birth. Working to change policies and practices, such as extending health care coverage, will enable more people to live healthier lives.
River Region United Way knows that real and sustained change in community conditions requires more than money. That’s why nationally, our Public Policy staff works to educate and engage Members of Congress, the Administration, and other policymakers about the goals and priorities of the United Way movement and our commitment to education, financial stability, health and nonprofit sector strengthening issues. To that end, we've partnered with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute to use the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps to provide a standard way for counties in each state to see where they are doing well and where they are not so they can make changes to improve health.
In order to ensure that children lead healthy lives, access to health care is absolutely critical. Health coverage not only helps to remove barriers to care, but it also improves overall health outcomes, and should therefore be comprehensive. As a result, Congress created the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in 1997 with strong bipartisan support to provide health insurance for low-income children who are not eligible for Medicaid.
CHIP was recently reauthorized with a significant increase in funding. Shortly thereafter, Congress extended this highly successful program and included funding for an additional two years. To further improve access to health coverage, the federal government banned the denial of insurance coverage to children based on pre-existing conditions and allowed children to stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26 years old.
With congressional debate heating up around potential changes to our current health laws, we are asking you to join us in contacting your Members of Congress to urge them not to compromise on the health of our children.
ZERO to THREE, a national United Way partner, supports advocates in their work to promote programs and policies that help improve the lives of infants and toddlers. Research shows that the effects of poverty diminishes brain growth. With nearly half of America's babies living in or near poverty, we need to invest in our future thinkers, builders, and innovators.
The State of Babies Yearbook: 2020 compares national and state-by-state data on the well-being of infants and toddlers.
The current state of babies tells an important story about what it is like to be a very young child in this country, and where we are headed as a nation. By nearly every measure, children living in poverty and children of color face the biggest obstacles, such as low birthweight, unstable housing, and limited access to quality child care.
A state profile of Alabama's babies provides a snapshot of how infants, toddlers, and their families are faring in each of these three policy domains -- Good Health, Strong Families and Positive Early Learning Exeriences. You can download the State of Alabama's Babies here, and compare Alabama's data to national averages.
To create a brighter future for all, we must implement policies based on science and budgets that make infants and young children a priority.
- More than 33% of children and adolescents are overweight or obese. That’s 25 million kids and teenagers. Children with health coverage are better prepared to learn in school and succeed in life.1
- The number of Americans without health insurance has increased steadily since the beginning of the century, now totaling about 47 million. More than 80% are working families.2
- 8.7 million children live without health insurance – more than the total number enrolled in the first and second grades in U.S. public schools.3
1Institute of Medicine. From Neurons to Neighborhood: The Science of Early Childhood Development. Washington DC: National Academies Press, 2000.)
2Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates from the March Current Population Survey, 2007 Supplement.
3Compiled by the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC), University of Minnesota School of Public Health, using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey 2007.