The early years of a child’s life provide a foundation for their future health, development and wellbeing. A positive start supports children to reach their optimal potential. During the first three years of life, a child’s brain develops rapidly, programming biological and behavioural responses that affect the child’s lifelong health in areas such as the development of obesity and chronic diseases.
A mother’s health during pregnancy is paramount to her child’s wellbeing as well as her own. Exposure to abuse, neglect or trauma during childhood can seriously affect a child’s physical and mental health as an adult. The risk factors children are exposed to early in life affect their resilience to disease as adults.
The best way to ensure good child and family health is to work in partnership with parents and carers to facilitate parent-child relationships: identifying and responding to each family’s unique needs, building on their strengths and identifying and responding to actual and potential health issues. Linking with other services within a family’s community is essential. Investing in child and family health also provides benefits for the rest of the population, with diverse outcomes such as greater productivity, lower burden of disease, and safer, better integrated communities.
The following links will take you directly to local council sites for children and families or to the service directory guide: