Child, Youth, and Family Health

Children and adolescents experience unique patterns of health, illness, and disability that require a set of public health services and policies that differ from those targeted to adults. In addition, many major public health problems—such as asthma, obesity, mental health problems, and high-risk behaviors for sexually transmitted diseases—tend to have their roots in early childhood.

Intervening in these issues is particularly challenging, as children are dependent on adults for access to healthcare services. Planning public health services for children therefore requires a holistic understanding of family and community conditions, including privacy, rights, and legal responsibilities.

The Child, Youth, and Family Health Certificate prepares students to handle these situations and take leadership roles in the design, implementation, and evaluation of public health programs and policies at the local, national, and global level. Graduates have proficiency in the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development of children from the prenatal period though early infancy, adolescence, and young adulthood, within a multi‐level social context. They are equipped with skills and frameworks for careers in non-governmental organizations, departments of health and education, and international non-profits.

Admissions Eligibility

Child, Youth, and Family Health is open to Columbia MPH students in:

Learn More

Visit the Certificates Database to learn more about core and credit requirements.

Sample Courses

Public Health Aspects of Child Health

This course provides students with an overview of key child health status indicators, and major causes of child health and disease at the individual and population levels. By studying examples of significant child health problems and solutions in a range of populations in the United States and abroad, students learn how to define and assess a child health problem, and become familiar with public health intervention strategies and their potential impact. In addition, students gain an understanding of how social and environmental conditions contribute to patterns of morbidity and mortality, as well as individual risk within a population, and health disparities across populations. The course content is organized into three modules: (1) Poverty and Social Adversity, (2) Physical Environment and Safety, and (3) Lifestyle and Behaviors. Key child health problems and programmatic solutions are studied in each module, followed by an in-class exercise. The format combines lectures and discussion with team-based learning, with some class sessions taking place at program sites where students participate in field-based learning.

Public Health Aspects of Adolescent Health

This course provides an overview of the health status of adolescents and young adults from both a national and global perspective. "Health," as defined by the World Health Organization, is viewed as a positive construct that goes beyond prevention of disease. This course focuses on a holistic conception of health that includes promotion of emotional, cognitive, and social wellbeing such as feeling happy, feeling hopeful about the future, being connected to peers, school, and family, having confidence about social skills, feeling academically competent, and experiencing success in school. Students explore adolescent and young adult sexual and reproductive health, obesity associated with physical activity and eating behaviors, interpersonal relationships, substance use, and mental health. School dropout, involvement in juvenile and criminal justice systems, and youth unemployment are reframed as public health issues. Development, behavior, and "health"are examined from an ecological perspective, (i.e., within the contexts of physical and social environments in which young people are embedded), and young people are viewed as resources to be developed, not problems to be fixed. Participation of public health practitioners in developing, implementing, monitoring, evaluating, and advocating for evidence-based and human rights-based "youth friendly" services is illustrated.

Related Certificates

Related Links