Well-Being in Middle Childhood: An Assets-Based Population-Level Research-to-Action Project
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This paper presents findings from a population-level, research-to-action partnership project on children’s well-being during the middle childhood years. Relations between 4th graders’ (N = 3,026) well-being (composite of satisfaction with life, optimism, self-concept, overall health, and depressive symptoms) and their social and contextual assets (adult connectedness, peer connectedness, school experiences, health habits, after-school program participation) were examined via a school district-wide administration of the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI)—a self-report, population-based survey administered by teachers to children in their classrooms. Findings corroborated the premise that children’s well-being is associated with their social and contextual assets. Specifically, after controlling for socioeconomic status and language background, significant and positive relationships were found between children’s well-being and the number of social and contextual assets reported, with each additional asset associated with a significantly higher level of well-being. In order to disseminate our findings to school and community stakeholder groups and to facilitate the translation of research into action, we developed geographical maps that illustrate the relationship between the children’s well-being composite and their social and contextual assets at the neighborhood-level. We conclude by addressing theoretical, methodological, and practical challenges of our research-to-action partnership, and by discussing the importance of collecting and disseminating population-level data on children’s well-being in combination with data on developmentally-relevant social and contextual factors that are amenable to change by school and community programs and initiatives.