Recognizing positive early childhood development as an important component of a comprehensive violence prevention strategy, the New Orleans Health Department is working to bridge their community safety and early childhood efforts. The agency is focused on strengthening and aligning current work to support the development of positive parenting skills and strong family relationships, enhance supports for fathers, and promote breastfeeding as an important part of healthy parent-child bonding and early attachment. These efforts not only help to promote optimal child development, but also mitigate risk factors and enhance protective factors for multiple forms of violence.
Chris Gunther presented on New Orleans’s violence prevention and early childhood work as part of a Cradle to Community panel at the 2016 American Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting in Denver, CO. This narrative is excerpted from his remarks.
New Orleans, LA – City of New Orleans Health Department
Chris Gunther, formerly of the City of New Orleans Health Department, describes persistent challenges faced by young children in New Orleans, particularly structural inequities such as poverty and widespread trauma in the years following Hurricane Katrina. New partnerships with schools and the New Orleans Health Department’s own maternal and child health programs have helped to shape the systems and norms that affect both community safety and early childhood development in the city.