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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Johns Hopkins: Gaps in Child Flourishing Narrow with Family Resilience and Connection

Less than half of school-age children in the U.S. are flourishing, according to a new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. However, children living in families with higher levels of resilience and connection are much more likely to flourish. This is true for children across levels of household income, health status and exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

The findings, published in the May issue of Health Affairs, suggest that more emphasis should be placed on programs to promote family resilience and parent-child connection, even as society works to lessen children’s adversities like poverty and child maltreatment.

The study found that only 40 percent of U.S. school-age children were flourishing. This ranged from 29.9 percent to 45.0 percent across U.S. states. Nearly half of children (48 percent) lived in families that reported the highest levels of resilience and connection. These children had over three times greater odds of flourishing compared to the 25.5 percent of children living in families reporting the lowest levels of resilience and connection. A similarly strong association of resilience and connection with flourishing was found across all groups of children, regardless of their level of adversity as assessed by their level of ACEs exposure, exposure to poverty and presence of a chronic condition and special health care needs.

Dr. Christina D. Bethell, director of the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative and professor in the Bloomberg School’s department of population, family and reproductive health, is lead author.

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