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 the following departments:

The Competencies for this Certificate are as follows:

  1. Explain the common causes and co-occurrence of different child health problems, and the implications of these associations for comprehensive intervention strategies
  2. Discuss the major social, economic, and physical conditions that place some children, youth and families at risk for health problems and the implications for prevention and intervention
  3. Analyze how the success of a child-, youth-, or family- focused intervention depends upon the social, cultural, economic, and political context
  4. Advocate and provide evidence for effective policies and programs that invest in children, youth and families
  5. Identify best practices in design, implementation and evaluation of child and youth health and development programs using effective tools and measures

Learn More

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

Sample Courses

Evidence to Action in Child Health

This course provides students with an overview of key child health problems and programmatic solutions based on evidence. By studying examples of significant child health problems and solutions in a range of populations in the United States and internationally, 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 morbidity and mortality, as well as individual risk within a population, and health disparities across populations.  

Public Health Aspects of Adolescent Health

This course provides an overview of adolescent and young adult health, including global and U.S. perspectives. “Health” is examined ecologically, i.e., recognizing the importance of the physical and social contexts in which young people are embedded. "Health," as defined by the World Health Organization, is viewed as a positive construct that goes beyond physical health indicators and the prevention of disease. This course focuses on a holistic conception of health that includes emotional, cognitive, and social well-being (e.g., feeling happy, hopeful, competent, useful, and socially connected), having adequate interpersonal skills, and achieving academic and vocational success. The first half of the course focuses on fundamentals of adolescent health such as definitions, conceptual models and adolescent development. The second half focuses on key issues in adolescent health, including site visits to understand several innovative, “youth-friendly” models for adolescent health promotion.  Issues such as HIV among youth, fertility, and marginalization of LGBTQ and justice-involved youth will be framed as public health issues.   

The participation of public health practitioners in developing, implementing, monitoring, evaluating, and advocating for “youth friendly” services grounded in evidence, theory, and human rights is illustrated and discussed throughout the course.

Related Certificates

Related Links