The conditions in the places where people are born, live, learn, work, and play that affect health and impact people’s life outcomes are referred to as “social determinants of health”.

As you can imagine, social determinants of health play an important role in the lives of our children, too. Their growth and health is shaped by the environments and contexts in which they are raised. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services categorizes social determinants of health (SDOH) into the five key areas of economic stability, education, health care, environment, and community. This last category refers to a person’s relationships and interactions with their family, friends and others within their community.

Social Determinants of Health from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Families experiencing domestic violence can impact the development of the children in that family, even if they are not the direct target of the violence. Shannon Ellison, our Manager of Health and Development, connected with Colleen Sutkus, Director of Training and Education at Sarah’s Inn, to facilitate a training session for the Collaboration team. Sarah’s Inn is an agency that began in Oak Park in 1981. They work to break the cycle of domestic violence. Thanks to the Sarah’s Inn training, the Collaboration for Early Childhood staff can more effectively respond to and engage with families in the community who may be experiencing domestic violence. They also understand the dynamics of domestic violence, which, according to the American Medical Association, is the cause of an estimated 35% of all hospital emergency department visits by women.

Through this partnership, Ellison is also working to spread awareness about the impact of domestic violence on children. To learn more, check out the linked flyer:

If you are interested in learning more about the domestic violence resources available for adults and children, email For questions about children’s health and development, email or call 708-613-6122.

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