Children's Health, Safety and Well-Being

Linking children’s health to education


photo by Lauren Long

The importance of children’s health, safety and well-being is explicit in the core values of the American Federation of Teachers. Today, 1 in 5 children struggles with a mental illness or lives in a food-insecure household. Impoverished children face even greater health risks with limited access to appropriate care. Recognizing the growing challenge of health disparities and their impact on school success, the AFT health, safety and well-being department created a new program focused on children’s wellness.

AFT members and leaders are the frontline workers teaching and caring for our students, so we wanted to hear from them as we shaped our program. Based on the results of a survey we distributed, the top three children’s health priorities that emerged were mental health, equitable access to care and food security.

Below, you can read more on how these and other health issues affect learning, as well as find strategies to help students thrive at school and beyond.

In any given year, as many as 20 percent of kids struggle with a mental disorder, with effects rippling to family, school and community.
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AFT members know firsthand that healthcare access is intimately linked to the achievement gap; healthy students learn better.
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Child nutrition directly impacts school success, both academically and socially, and our food professionals play an important role.
Read more