Keep kids active, healthy and learning
California State PTA offers advice on keeping kids healthy, active and learning:
- Health care is key. Children who are ill or in pain can’t concentrate on — and succeed in — school. Regular physical and oral checkups and timely care are important for academic achievement, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is bringing children and families new options for affordable, quality health coverage, immunizations and preventive services. Parents with uninsured or underinsured children can find out more about new, affordable health care options from Covered California to keep their kids succeeding in school, health and life.
- Nutrition keeps children growing and learning. PTA launched United States schools’ hot-and-healthy lunch programs 100 years ago because — even back then — the connection between nutrition and achievement was clear. Today’s parents can help children reinforce healthy behaviors that last a lifetime by choosing a variety of nutrient-rich foods as the foundation of what they eat, not just at lunch at school but throughout the day. And take time – as frequently as possible – to eat together. Children who eat with their families regularly tend to eat healthier and have better nutritional status than those who do not. Family meals also are linked to improved language skills, better academic performance and a reduced risk of substance abuse and behavioral issues.
- Active children have active minds. A significant body of research links regular physical activity with improved academic performance. Active play for 60 minutes a day improves students’ brain functions, concentration, memory, overall grades and performance on standardized tests. Activity can happen anywhere — in the classroom, the gymnasium, even outside of school. Take a walk as a family or play tag together: The brain-boosting benefits of physical activity are not limited to children, and parents can set healthy examples for their children.
- Kids can’t learn — and succeed — if they’re not at school. Chronic absenteeism — missing 10 percent or more of school days for any reason, excused or unexcused — is a proven early warning sign of academic risk and school dropout. According to the National Collaborative on Education and Health, while the causes of chronic absenteeism are multi-fold, research shows that student health issues are a leading contributor. These health issues include physical, mental, behavioral, vision, dental, social and emotional health issues in addition to issues connected to a child’s surrounding environment such as violence, housing insecurity and food insecurity. As a result, ensuring that students are healthy and attending school is a critical strategy for addressing chronic absenteeism — and for ensuring student success.
- Family engagement makes a difference. Parents’ involvement in children’s lives has been shown to reduce children’s health-risk behaviors, improve their attitudes toward school and learning, and improve academic achievement and student success. With recent changes to how schools are funded, every school district in California must develop a Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) that describes how it will use funds to improve student achievement. Parents, community leaders, and students themselves have the opportunity to get engaged to set priorities and guide local decision making – including looking at what schools are doing to keep kids healthy and safe. Parents and community leaders can participate in a school health advisory committee and evaluate the school wellness policy on a regular basis.
HEALTH CARE HELP IS HERE FOR CALIFORNIA FAMILIES
We’re seeing a new age of health in our nation: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is bringing historic opportunities to achieve health coverage for millions of California children and families. It’s a defining moment for anyone whose passion is the success of California’s children.
To help bring these national and state healthcare opportunities directly to local schools and families, the PTA and our dedicated leaders and volunteers are taking part in the ALL IN for Health campaign. We’re spreading the word about health options and opportunities to millions of school-community children and families who are uninsured or underinsured:
- Many children who qualify for health coverage through public programs are not currently enrolled. The Affordable Care Act is bringing uninsured children and adults affordable options for health coverage and new avenues for enrollment.
- Millions of parents, school employees and children are now eligible for financial assistance in purchasing health insurance through California’s health insurance marketplace, Covered California.
- PTA is proud to play a role in expanding and improving health coverage for California’s kids. To assist in the ALL IN for Health campaign or our related health activities, and how you can get involved and get assistance, sign up today for email health news.
We’re ALL IN for health!
You may have heard that ALL income-eligible kids, regardless of immigration status, will soon qualify for full-scope Medi-Cal. This means that undocumented children will be able to get the full array of preventive and treatment-related health care that they were previously ineligible for because of their immigration status.
How can you help these newly eligible students get enrolled? Encourage families with undocumented children to enroll their children in restricted Medi-Cal (also called emergency Medi-Cal) TODAY. All children enrolled in restricted-scope Medi-Cal will be automatically enrolled into full-scope Medi-Cal when the expansion begins, making it seamless for families to obtain full Medi-Cal benefits for their children. The expansion is expected to take place this May.
The ALL IN Campaign, a project of The Children’s Partnership, equips education leaders with the tools they need to educate families and individuals in schools and early learning and after-school communities about health coverage opportunities, as well as connect uninsured children, parents and employees to health coverage and care. To access the bookmarks, fliers and other tools, or for more information, visit www.allinforhealth.org or call (916) 844-2413.
IMMUNIZATIONS HELP PROTECT YOUR CHILD AT EVERY AGE
Immunizations have had an enormous impact on improving the health of children in the United States. Most parents in our country today have never seen first-hand the devastating consequences that vaccine-preventable diseases have on a family or community.
While several dangerous and potentially deadly diseases are no longer common in the U.S. due to decades of public-health immunization efforts, they persist around the world where vaccinations are not readily available. It’s important that we continue to protect our children with vaccines because outbreaks of harmful – but preventable — diseases can and do occasionally occur right here at home. That’s why California State PTA supported 2015’s Senate Bill 277 to help protect vulnerable children and youth.
Vaccination is one of the easiest and most effective ways parents can protect infants, children and youth from 16 potentially harmful diseases. Vaccine-preventable diseases can be very serious, may require hospitalization or can even be deadly: especially in infants and young children.
For information on timely, age-appropriate vaccinations – many of which are now provided free of cost under the Affordable Care Act – please contact your child’s doctor or school.
- Ed100: New Vaccination Laws
- Vaccines and Children
- Parents’ Guide to Vaccines
- Immunization and Disease Prevention
- If You Choose Not to Vaccinate Your Child, Understand the Risks and Responsibilities