Access to education has a strong impact on health and well-being.

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Foundations of health | Education

Education plays a vital role in helping families, children and our communities reach their healthiest potential. As a leading social determinant of health* education makes major contributions toward child and youth development, career development and access to family-wage jobs, and broad community knowledge about wellness. Our family of organizations remains committed to advancing educational opportunities through our own institutions and centers, and also with longstanding community partnerships that can achieve sustainable, positive impacts for those we serve.

Washington: Caring for youth and adults with Mental Health First Aid

In eastern Washington, Kadlec prioritizes mental health education partnerships that prepare adults to recognize mental health issues and emergencies in youth and respond thoughtfully and compassionately.

Kadlec has a years-long partnership with Educational Service District 123 supporting two programs: Youth Mental Health First Aid and Adult Mental Health First Aid. Both training programs teach participants to recognize a mental health or substance use issue and connect anyone, including fellow workers, friends or loved ones, with effective resources to support them.

In 2021, more than 100 individuals became certified in Mental Health First Aid through virtual training supported by Kadlec.

Kadlec also invested in a local mental health initiative led by Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen, Kaiya Bates. Having personally experienced mental health challenges in her own life, Kaiya wanted to break the stigma and help another youth cope with their feelings.

As part of her social impact work, Kaiya led an effort to create mood regulation kits (pictured above) filled with fidget tools, breathing spheres, two-minute calming timers, and other resources to help kids find calm within themselves and process tough emotions. Also called C.A.L.M-ing kits (choices, attitude, learn, meditate), these resources are available in all Pasco elementary schools thanks to Kaiya’s fundraising and a $10,000 community benefit contribution from Kadlec. Kaiya’s goal is to have a kit in every elementary school in the Pasco School District.

“As a non-profit hospital, Kadlec invests in community organizations and programs that, like us, are working to address local needs,” says Karen Hayes, Kadlec’s Community Health Investment Manager. “Funding C.A.L.M.-ing Kits to help Kaiya reach her goal of getting a kit in each elementary school classroom is an important commitment to the mental health of our young people,” adds Hayes.

Oregon: On track to graduate, thanks to the University of Providence

The University of Providence is a private, Catholic-sponsored liberal arts university founded in 1932 by the Sisters of Providence. It strives to connect people with each other, their communities and opportunities. When Oregon’s largest private university, Concordia University in Portland, abruptly closed in 2020, thousands of students were left without a clear path to complete their degrees. This had deep impacts on students and their families, particularly for individuals such as Viry Juarez, a Providence caregiver and working parent who initially chose Concordia for its flexible programs.

While Juarez had eight years of experience in her health care job, a degree was the next step to help advance her career. Finishing her educational program would provide the opportunity to apply for a more senior role.

Education is very much part of a healthy life, and Providence continues to invest in this basic human and social need.

Juarez considered pausing her education once Concordia closed. Fortunately, when she saw an opportunity with the University of Providence’s Bachelor of Healthcare Administration Program, she learned she could transfer her credits and finish her degree.

The University of Providence offers many degrees online. The institution plays a role in helping students affected by closures, such as Juarez, finish their degrees and advance their education.

In her classes, Juarez appreciates learning from her peers and their diverse backgrounds and recognizes the importance of having different perspectives in providing quality health care. She is happy to report that she’s on track to graduate in the fall of 2022.

“I enjoy the discussions about how we can improve our care for patients and how we can dissolve those past judgements that we’ve been brought up with,” says Juarez.

Improving access to early childhood development

Among all social investments, early childhood education programs can have the greatest impact on health, and our family of organizations operates seven of these centers across the states we serve. In Montana, through the St. Thomas Child and Family Center in Great Falls, Providence continues to invest in the health of growing children and their families, particularly for the most vulnerable in our community.

The St. Thomas Child and Family Center in Great Falls, Mont. is a multi-dimensional program.

Originally established years ago by the Sisters of Providence, St. Thomas has evolved into a multi-dimensional program. In addition to full-time child care, it provides developmental support and age-appropriate preschool curriculum and activities for children between ages six weeks and six years. The classes and activities focus on engaging each child’s social, emotional, physical and cognitive growth.



“We believe that education begins at birth. And we recognize how critical quality environments are to a child’s development.” Carrie Doty, executive director, St. Thomas Child and Family Center.

Providence also works closely with the Department of Family Services to fill gaps for local foster children by providing child care, clothing, diapers, school supplies and other basic needs at no cost. St. Thomas supports these families in need by creating a safe and welcoming environment, something Doty believes can have a significant impact on a growing child.

At times, up to 30 percent of the children served at St. Thomas are living with foster parents. Even after a child is adopted, reunited with their family, or joins another foster family, St. Thomas offers its services to that family.

"My greatest joy is that we meet the needs of all these children and provide them a consistent, safe, stable and loving environment to be in," says Doty. 

Education is very much part of a healthy life, and Providence understands the importance of community-based partnerships to help bring greater access to learning for all. Whether through life-saving mental health training, access to higher education or early childhood development for under-resourced families, Providence's work and investments continue to help build healthier, more equitable communities. 

*Social determinants of health include factors like socioeconomic status, education, neighborhood and physical environment, employment, and social support networks, as well as access to health care. Addressing social determinants of health is important for improving health and reducing longstanding disparities in health and health care. 

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