Child Well-being

A Brief History of the Child Well-being Movement

Early 2018 marked the official transition of the work of the SmartBabies Initiative from oversight at Waco Foundation to United Way of Waco-McLennan County.  United Way staff immediately embedded key strategies of the Initiative into our Impact Framework which would then define funding priorities for our new grant-making model.

Initial meetings with the leadership of Waco Foundation and United Way to discuss the transition of the Initiative resulted in a mutual understanding that efforts would refocus beyond addressing maternal and child health matters and involve broadening the age continuum beyond prenatal to 3 years old.  In keeping with national strategies to address a broader spectrum of factors involved in assuring the quality of life for children, United Way preliminarily proposed to include efforts which would also ensure children are adequately prepared for school and broadened the focus to prenatal through age 5 in its new model.

It was vitally important to our staff that we understand the full potential of our new role within the community as a convener, collaborator, and funder. Our staff spent a year visiting with and studying other United Ways across the country who have successfully transitioned their model to one which works to serve the needs of the area’s most vulnerable children and families spurring greater community impact.

Our local and national research of Child Well-being has greatly contributed to our understanding of the county’s needs and community partner’s readiness to respond.  We continue to study early childhood efforts in a number of communities, and look forward to the development of future initiatives that best support our local children and families.

Championing the Child Well-being Movement for McLennan County

We propose to address the complex and critical task of improving child well-being by building a strong network of community partnerships and by using a data-driven approach to impact local issues.  Our aim is to deploy child well-being champions from communities and sectors across McLennan County to mobilize, develop innovative strategies, and strategically invest resources to meet the needs of area children and families.

This work is being executed using a phased approach to:

Waco-McLennan County Child Well-being Movement: Theory of Change

The Waco-McLennan County Child Well-being Movement will draw upon the wisdom and experience of local families, community stakeholders, and practitioners from diverse sectors to promote Child Well-being throughout the county. We will do this work with a steadfast commitment to maintaining authentic and continuous community engagement and cohesiveness of cross-sector partnerships.

Open Communication & Power Sharing

If our collective goal is to truly transform these systems and revitalize communities, we must lift their voice and allow their agency in the development of effective strategies for transformational change.

Focus on Equity & Continuous Improvement

It is vital that we work to increase our collective knowledge and understanding of equity and how the lack of equitable opportunities perpetuates many of our most persistent societal issues.  Failing to address inequity lessens our ability to achieve population-level results and further widens the gap. It will be imperative that we employ a comprehensive approach to continuous improvement, with a focus on creating greater equity in the process, in order to effectively serve and support area children and families.

Cross-sector Collaboration & Shared Metrics

One vital component to assuring success will be the ability of community partners to synergize around a shared commitment to ensuring improved child well-being in the county.  In order for this to come to fruition, we must dedicate ourselves to forming a shared vision and specific goals, and align our measures to achieve them.

Together, we can make transformational change for children and families of McLennan County.  As we say at United Way, Change Doesn’t Happen Alone.

low-income children access to
Early Childhood Education
classes and quality afterschool and summer programs
low/uninsured families with access to
Medical Screenings and Health Exams
as well as prescription assistance and other therapy needs
children, adults, and families with
Meals and Bags of Groceries
over 46,000 eligible children, adults and families
low-income pregnant girls and women
Pregnancy Related Care Needs
including prenatal care, resource assistance, and parenting classes
families and individuals with
Family and Domestic Violence Care
including access to shelters, resource counseling, and case management