Developed by Seabourne Consulting, experts in Children and Youth

Children and Youth


The term “child” can refer to anyone below the age of 18, which is the age of legal adulthood in the U.S. In some cases, a child is defined as someone below the age of 13, and those between 13 and 18 are referred to as adolescents or teenagers, though different definitions of age classifications exist and vary in scope. For example, some definitions extend adolescence to age 19. “Childhood” and “youth” are other general terms for the period of life between the ages of 1 and 18 and are usually defined by certain developmental and transitional events, like rapid growth and beginning schooling. Referring to people by their age group or educational level (teens, elementary school age children, etc.) is one way to be more specific when discussing or referring to children and youth. Terminology is an individual preference and should be treated as such.


Children and adolescents account for an estimated 22% of the U.S. population. Childhood is a crucial time of development in the human lifespan. From birth to age five, children’s brains are developing rapidly, producing up to 40,000 neural connections per second. The connections made during this period of growth enable movement, language acquisition and emotional expression, and form the building blocks for skills developed later in life, like self-regulation, problem-solving, and motivation . Childhood experiences have lifelong effects on behavior, learning, physical and mental health, and overall well-being. Today, children and youth are growing up in uncertain and dangerous times—in 2020, gun violence surpassed motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of death among children and adolescents. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted almost every aspect of childhood, including education, social and emotional development, and access to routine medical care. Caring for these aspects of children’s health and well-being is vital, not only for their sake today, but for the sake of the adults they will become in the future. 


Historically, children have been a particularly vulnerable population. It was not until the mid-19th century that children were recognized as a distinct and unique population as opposed to just smaller versions of adults. Programs specifically for children, like the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the National School Lunch Program, and Head Start and Early Head Start, have improved the health and well-being of American children, in addition to raising awareness of the importance of children’s health.


Though awareness about and understanding of the factors contributing to childhood health and well-being has improved in the last century, not all of America’s children and youth have reaped the benefits. Racial and ethnic health disparities in the United States are pervasive and extend to America’s children, including in mortality, access to and quality of care, use of services, and prevention, among other areas. From 2018-2019, the proportion of children who were reported as not in excellent or very good health was 10% overall, but was 13% for Hispanic or Latino children and 15% for Black children. Children of color are also disproportionately affected by lack of insurance: 14% of Native American and 9% of Hispanic/Latinx children did not have health insurance coverage in 2019, when the average for all children in the U.S. was only 6%.  Additionally, children and youth that are economically poor, disabled, LGBTQ+, and/or of color experience compounding marginalizations and are overall more likely to struggle to thrive. 


Achieving health equity and justice for children and youth requires continued dedication to their well-being and acknowledgement of their vulnerability—many negative health outcomes that children face are preventable. Special attention should be paid to marginalized groups, especially children of color, in order to improve their access to opportunities, care, and health equity. Institutionalizing and operationalizing equity and justice throughout the education, child care, child welfare, and health care sectors will require organizations, allies, and systems to deeply center and follow the leadership of people with lived experience. Community-led processes, self-representation, and centering the perspectives and voices of children and youth are a few effective tactics communities can leverage to advance equity and well-being.


Resources & Tools


Staff Pick!
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Well-being Assessment (Youth)
Resource - Assessment/evaluation
Brought to you by IHI
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Priority Populations Channel
Resource - Data Bank/repository
Brought to you by Community Commons
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Urban Nature for Human Health and Well-Being
Resource - Report
Brought to you by USDA
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KIDS COUNT Data Center
Tool - Data/mapping Tool
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Bright Spot: Reducing the Risk
Resource - Model Policy
Brought to you by 100MHL
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Bright Spot: Seeking Safety for Adolescents
Resource - Model Policy
Brought to you by 100MHL
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Child Opportunity Index
Resource
Brought to you by diversitydatakids.org
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#RealCollege During the Pandemic
Resource - Report
Brought to you by The Hope Center
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The State of America's Children 2017: State Factsheets
Resource - Fact Sheet
Brought to you by Children's Defense Fund
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Bright Spot: Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH)
Resource - Model Policy
Brought to you by 100MHL
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Bright Spot: Media Detective
Resource - Model Policy
Brought to you by 100MHL
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Family and Social Support
Resource - Website/webpage
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Bright Spot: OSNAP Initiative: Strategies to Increase Drinking Water Access
Resource - Model Policy
Brought to you by 100MHL
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Bright Spot: Shape NC
Resource - Model Policy
Brought to you by 100MHL
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National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families
Resource
Brought to you by Family and Youth Services Bureau
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Lifelong Health
Resource - Website/webpage
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Bright Spot: Media Ready
Resource - Model Policy
Brought to you by 100MHL
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Free Resources from Search Institute
Resource - Guide/handbook
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Operation Youth Success: Developmental Evaluation Final Report
Resource - Report
Brought to you by NCJR
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Bright Spot: Safe Routes to Schools
Resource - Model Policy
Brought to you by 100MHL
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Types of Cyberbullying
Resource - Website/webpage
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Elementary and Middle School Success
Resource - Data Bank/repository
Brought to you by Results for America
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Bright Spot: Children's Power Play! - California Department of Public Health
Resource - Model Policy
Brought to you by 100MHL
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Bright Spot: Project STRIVE
Resource - Model Policy
Brought to you by 100MHL
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Deeper Dives for Schools: Practical Strategies to Serve Young Children Experiencing Homelessness
Resource - Fact Sheet
Brought to you by SchoolHouse Connection
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Strengthening Families Program
Resource - Website/webpage
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Bright Spot: Motivating Adolescents with Technology to Choose Health (MATCH)
Resource - Model Policy
Brought to you by 100MHL
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Bright Spot: Color Me Healthy
Resource - Model Policy
Brought to you by 100MHL
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Bright Spot: SPARK
Resource - Model Policy
Brought to you by 100MHL
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Eating Disorder Statistics
Resource - Fact Sheet
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Bright Spot: Kids in Parks
Resource - Model Policy
Brought to you by 100MHL
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Developmental Relationships Framework
Resource - Guide/handbook
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Adverse Childhood Experiences and Life Opportunities: Shifting the Narrative
Resource - Journal Article
Brought to you by CDC
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Kindergarten Readiness
Resource - Data Bank/repository
Brought to you by Results for America
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Children - Healthy People 2030
Resource - Website/webpage
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Stable and Healthy Families
Resource - Data Bank/repository
Brought to you by Results for America
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Bright Spot: Making Proud Choices
Resource - Model Policy
Brought to you by 100MHL
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Bright Spot: The Seven Challenges
Resource - Model Policy
Brought to you by 100MHL
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The State of Online Harassment
Resource - Report
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The National Child Trauma Stress Network
Resource - Website/webpage
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Children’s Environmental Health
Resource - Website/webpage
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A Time Like No Other: 4-H Youth Development and COVID-19
Resource - Journal Article
Brought to you by 4-H
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Bright Spot: School Health and Wellness Program
Resource - Model Policy
Brought to you by 100MHL
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The State of America's Children 2017 Report
Resource - Report
Brought to you by Children's Defense Fund
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Measuring the Burden of Child Care Costs
Resource - Blog
Brought to you by CHR&R
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The Science of Early Childhood Development
Resource - Guide/handbook
Brought to you by National Scientific Council on the Developing Child
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Bright Spot: YES! Youth Empowerment Model
Resource - Model Policy
Brought to you by 100MHL
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Investing in Youth
Story - Written
Brought to you by 100MHL
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Georgia's Separate and Unequal Special-Education System
Story - Written
Brought to you by TNY
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Let Kids Play
Story - Written
Brought to you by NYT
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Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights Bring Leaders, Residents Together
Story - Written
Brought to you by Children and Nature Network
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A Town Where a School Bus Is More Than a Bus
Story - Written
Brought to you by NYT
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Improving Health through Community Partnerships
Story - Written
Brought to you by 100MHL
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America's Other Family-‍Separation Crisis
Story - Written
Brought to you by TNY
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Taking Action to End Gun Violence: Our Top Tools, Resources, Stories, and Data
Story - Original
Brought to you by Community Commons
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The Impact of Mileage Club
Story - Written
Brought to you by 100MHL
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The Risks to Children From Adults Who Smoke
Story - Written
Brought to you by NYT
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Youth, Young Adults, and Digital Abuse
Story - Original
Brought to you by Community Commons
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 Related Topics


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Child Food Security

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Youth Mental Health

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LGBTQ+ Youth

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Parents and Families

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Child Care Centers and Preschools

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Women and Girls

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School Food

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Adverse Childhood Experiences

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Early Childhood Education

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Children's Saving Account

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Positive Youth Development

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Childhood Obesity