Strengthening Neighborhood Interventions to Alleviate Childhood Poverty
Neighborhood poverty levels are associated with the health status of children and adults. To improve the roots of lifelong health, the authors assess the existing literature and some illustrative case studies to develop strategies that can guide future neighborhood-level interventions. In an article published in Academic Pediatrics, researchers reviewed and assessed the strengths of three neighborhood-level poverty interventions: the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative and the Vital Village Network in Boston, Massachusetts, and Healthy Neighborhoods Healthy Families in Columbus, Ohio. By synthesizing the strengths of each initiative, the authors recommend four strategies that could be adopted by future neighborhood intervention efforts.
- Neighborhood-level interventions must clearly define a target population and geography to deliver the right amount of intervention to achieve results. Because neighborhoods are not equally disadvantaged, data tools, such as the Child Opportunity Index, can assist with neighborhood identification and the development of appropriate interventions.
- The community must lead the intervention and be engaged throughout the process. Anchor institutions can be catalysts for neighborhood-level interventions, but neighborhood voices must be constantly included and valued to address “a community-identified problem with a community-driven solution.” Asset-based community development approaches can be more effective in empowering stakeholders than a sole focus on a neighborhood’s deficits.
- Diverse sources of funding are needed to create sustained, long-term success. This prevents a single funder from monopolizing the agenda and diffuses power dynamics that may otherwise impede bottom-up change.
- Cross-sector solutions are needed to achieve better outcomes on communities’ complex challenges. For example, reducing a neighborhood’s obesity rate may require coordinated intervention in crime reduction, food access, and other contributing factors. Cross-sector solutions also need to pay attention to equity, including the health risks posed by adverse childhood experiences and other traumas.