Policy Factsheet

Early Childhood Health Promotion

Reasons for Policy

  • The factors that shape child health and development have implications for health in adulthood.1
  • Health promotion efforts targeting tobacco smoke exposure, unintentional injuries, obesity and/or mental health among preschool-aged children and their families can improve health across the life span and yield future economic returns to society.1

Community Groups

  • Department of Education
  • Local Government
  • Local Health Department
  • Local School Board
  • State Government

Policy Components

  • Health promotion and interventions targeting preschool age children and their families addressing tobacco exposure, unintentional injury, obesity, and/or mental health.

Desired Outcomes

  • Reduce exposure to environmental tobacco smoke
  • Prevention of unintentional injuries
  • Prevention of childhood obesity
  • Improved overall lifetime health and well being

Level of Evidence Available to Evaluate Effectiveness of Policy

For all policies we describe on this website, we have applied the Standards of Evidence as defined by Flay et al. (2005) in the Standards of Evidence document published by Prevention Science.

The effectiveness level of this policy is 1: Evidence-Based Policies Meeting Criteria for Effectiveness.

The levels of effectiveness as noted are:

  1. meets criteria for policy effectiveness (consistent, positive outcomes from at least two high-quality experimental or quasi-experimental trials using a comparison group or interrupted time series design);
  2. consistent evidence available linking policy with positive outcomes from high-quality observational studies only;
  3. insufficient evidence available for policy or policy components.

Achievable Results

On average, smoking cessation interventions targeting pregnant women can achieve:

  • 25% to 30% reductions in parent-reported smoking at home or household air nicotine measures.1

On average, unintentional injury prevention targeting children and parents can achieve:

  • Improvements in parents’ and children’s knowledge, safety behaviors, and safety device usage.1

Because very few studies target preschool-age children, the overall effectiveness of interventions to prevent obesity in early childhood remains unclear. Additional evidence is needed for promotion interventions for children’s mental health. There is a need for targeted, specific, rigorous research to examine the longitudinal causal relationships between early childhood preventative interventions and health outcomes across the life span.1

Community Examples

Colorado, Boulder County Public Health Department administers child health promotion services.

Washington State Department of Early Learning administers child development, health and safety programs.

Links to Policy Examples

Colorado Revised Statutes § 25-1-506. County or district public health agency

Colorado Revised Statutes Title 25 Health, Article 20.5 Prevention, Intervention, and Treatment Services for Children and Youth

Revised Code of Washington, Title 43, Chapter 43.215 Department of Early Learning

† Be sure to check with your state, county, and municipal governments regarding potential existing laws that may impede any new policy development.

‡Local governments and organizations may check existing state and federal statutes and administrative codes for the authority to implement local policies.


1 Guyer B, et al. (2009). Early Childhood Health Promotion and Its Life Course Health Consequences. Academic Pediatrics, 9, 142-149.

2 Flay, BR, Biglan, A, Boruch, RF, Ganzalez Castro, F, Gottfredson, D, Kellam, S, Moscicki, EK, Schinke, S, Valentine, JC, & Ji, P (2005). Standards of evidence: Criteria for efficacy, effectiveness and dissemination. Prevention Science, 6(3), 151-175.