Advancing a Family-Centered Community Health System: A Community Agenda Focused on Child Health Care, Foundational Relationships, and Equity

Center for the Study of Social Policy
September 2020
This report outlines fundamental elements for advancing family-centered community health systems for young families.
woman playing blocks with a toddler

A family-centered community health system is an organization of people, institutions, and resources in a specific geographic area that can deliver health care and other health-influencing services in ways that acknowledge and appropriately respond to the unique needs of the families being served. Systems of care that strive to be family-centered will do their best work when equity is at the core of their operations. The fundamental elements for advancing family-centered community health systems for young families exist today. This report outlines each of the systems-building elements and brings the elements together in an approach that is conceptually coherent and allows systems to be implemented, tested, and developed with community and family leaders.

The development of a family-centered community health system for young families seeks to create a more equitable, comprehensive, science-informed, and effective response to children’s and families’ developmental needs. The elements of a family-centered community health system, when adopted and coordinated, can drive transformation at the system and community level.

Elements of a Family-Centered Community Health System

  • A focus on a place-based approach for achieving population health with disaggregated data that informs local decision-making
  • A local, coordinated early childhood system that works collectively to dismantle structural inequities and racism
  • High-performing medical homes that better support families and connect them with the array of community supports to address family needs
  • Parent leadership networks that hold programs, services, and community systems accountable
  • Intensive, coordinated, and comprehensive strategies for all infants, toddlers, and their families that support building foundational relationships for improved life course outcomes
  • Vibrant and robust family- and community-led networks that support positive experiences for children and families
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