Children's & Family Health
When children are healthy, everyone benefits. Families are happier; businesses are more productive; society runs smoother. While parents are ultimately responsible for keeping their children healthy, sometimes parents need help. Our society can do that by enacting policies to ensure affordable health insurance, access to healthy food, protection from violence, and paid sick leave, among other supports. Yet, in many ways, our current social safety net doesn’t support those policies and news on children’s health too often doesn’t reflect their importance. Legislation that does support children’s health is frequently bogged down with dense, wonky language that obscures the policy’s underlying values such as compassion and fairness. This decreases the chances that reporters will pick up the story, and, ultimately, that the public will embrace it.
the path to success
Ensuring children’s and family health starts with healthy public policy. That includes policies in areas like education, which have strong connections to health even though they may not be immediately obvious. To be healthy, children and families need a range of resources such as safe parks nearby, affordable fresh produce, schools with high-quality curricula, affordable medical care, and the ability to take time off work when a child or other family member gets sick.
We help advocates articulate the values behind the legislation, giving it the visibility it needs to be both understood by and persuasive to the public and to policymakers. At BMSG, we help advocates talk and write about the structural policy changes needed to support children’s and family health without drowning in a mire of technical detail. Once advocates have communicated the values guiding their efforts, they are in a better position to explain why the policy matters and what its implications are for real people.
Strategic zoning and land-use policies can be used to help foster healthy food environments. But is the health argument enough when making the case for these policies? We analyzed legislative debates and news depictions of fast-food land-use ordinances to help advocates better understand various arguments for and against zoning.