Support the Whole Child

Support the Whole Child

Improve learning by supporting children's full needs at home and school

What It Is

What happens in school depends on what happens at home. The COVID pandemic highlighted and increased disparities in learning and support for children and their caregivers during a time of widespread stress, loss, isolation, and economic hardship. Bridging gaps in opportunity and achievement requires a multifaceted approach that tackles in-school and out-of-school factors that influence how children learn and succeed. Research shows that supporting the full needs of a children improves both learning outcomes — kindergarten readiness, achievement, attendance, graduation rates — and personal ones, building emotional readiness and resilience for life, including growth mindset, self-control, goal-setting, and stress management.

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What Donors Can Do

Donors can help ensure that children, parents, and teachers have resources and support to recover lost learning and make the gains that ensure foundational success. Here are strategies that work.

Support for emotional, mental, and physical well-being

Donors can support the whole child by implementing mental health, socioemotional learning, and health services for children. For example, wraparound services for children extend beyond the school, providing a comprehensive set of supports that respond to the needs of children’s mental and physical well-being and provides support and engagement with the entire family. Other strategies to support include in-school health clinics that provide mental health and nutrition services, providing basic preventive care through immunizations and check-ups, along with prescriptions and other care for sick children, physical and mental health screenings, follow-up counseling, mental health care, and crisis intervention when needed (Economic Policy Institute). Offered in or out of school, socio-emotional learning and mental health services, training, and curriculum can help children build resilience in stressful environments for greater school success.

Organizations to Consider

Friends of the Children supports children who have faced multiple adverse childhood experiences through long-term mentorship.

TREP Project trains educators serving children in neighborhoods with high levels of toxic stress.

WINGS uses an early and comprehensive approach to in-school and afterschool programs grounded in the principles of positive youth development and evidence-based social emotional learning practices to foster the mindsets, skills, and confidence within each child.

Multigenerational Supports

Donors can help children by helping their families achieve  home stability and economic security, addresses structural, root causes of disparities in access to educational opportunities and academic achievement. A multigenerational approach to supporting families includes parents, grandparents, and caregivers through housing assistance, connections to food and clothing pantries and services, mental and physical health services for the whole family, guaranteed income programs, and advocacy for expanding safety net programs (unemployment insurance, disability insurance, EITC, child care tax credit, etc.), raising minimum wage, and supporting  government policies for better employment options and more equitable income growth.

Organizations to Consider

Family Support

Abriendo Puertas builds parental skills and promotes family well-being and positive outcomes for children in Hispanic/Latinx communities.

AVANCE assists under-resourced families of young children using a two-generation education and relationship-building methodology to boost family outcomes as parents, employees, and citizens.

The Child-Parent Center program (CPC) provides comprehensive educational, family support, and healthcare services to economically disadvantaged children from ages 3-9.

Nurse-Family Partnership pairs specially trained registered nurses with vulnerable women who are pregnant with their first child, starting early in pregnancy and continuing through the child’s second birthday.

Springboard Collaborative, a nonprofit based in Philadelphia with programs in multiple cities, has helped close the literacy gap with a hands-on approach to involving parents — not just teachers and students — in literacy learning with in-home and summer programs.

Economic and Housing Support

Compass works to expand the scope and impact of HUD’s Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program, a promising but underutilized savings and employment program for families living in federally subsidized housing.

LIFT coaches help parents set objectives like securing a safe home, living wages and a better education and connects them to the financial resources and networks they need.

HomeStart’s Renew Collaborative is an eviction prevention program that supports families and prevents learning disruptions.

Springboard to Opportunities’ Magnolia Mother’s Trust provides low-income, African-American mothers in Jackson, Mississippi, with $1,000 guarenteed income on a monthly basis, no strings attached, for 12 months straight.