Choosing a Focus

At this stage of your journey, you and your community have started to make sense of the local and system-level strengths and challenges which affect child well-being. A clearer picture of how your kids are doing has emerged. But where do we go from here?

We can’t tell you exactly where to direct your efforts – that decision will be different for each school and each community. But we can help you get you started, and will continue to share ideas and stories from other communities and researchers each making their own strides toward universal well-being for children.

Choosing a Focus is Critical

A right-size focus provides:

Something concrete to rally around.
Choosing a unified, concrete focus turns something large and abstract like (like the complex issue of well-being) into something tangible and digestible (like quality sleep). This allows you to communicate clearly about a single issue, create themed events, and explain how everyone in the community can play a role.

Something you can measure & evaluate.
The best choices for action are things you can evaluate over time – not just through next year’s MDI reports, but through ongoing investigation and attention.

Something achievable.
Quick wins are a critical first piece of long-term change. Trying to solve everything at once may result in burnout and disappointment. Choosing a goal of an achievable size will make it easier to sustain initiatives and ensure people feel like they can do something to make a difference.

What to Consider

Since the breadth of MDI results is compelling and potentially overwhelming, begin with a reflective approach to help with the decision. Make a list (individually and/or with others) to answer the following:

Which results resonate the most?
Is there already a passion for change centering on a specific areas? What elements have sparked the most conversation?

Which factors do you have influence over?
Moving the dial on child well-being is ultimately a long-term project – but start where you have the power to enact change now. Can you clearly see the first steps you can take?

Which results align with current initiatives, goals, and strengths in your school or community?
Take advantage of aligning work and sharing resources whenever possible.

Commit to ongoing inquiry

Recognize that wherever you and your community choose to direct your efforts, you’ll be most successful if you embrace an
ongoing journey of learning and action.

The MDI is conducted only once each year, but there are opportunities to refine and add to your knowledge throughout
the change process.

When it comes to the planning and implementation of initiatives, we recommend taking an iterative approach: allowing for course-corrections along the way based on monitoring activities and receiving ongoing feedback from both adults and kids.

Remember to ask for kids’ perspectives at this stage, too. Middle-years children and adolescents can provide deeper insights into which aspects of their lives are most important to them, and can often come up with creative solutions.

Still Not Sure
Where to Start?

Return to the Well-Being and Assets Indices

We encourage communities to look for the strengths present in the Well-Being Index and the Assets Index contained in your reports as a starting point. These two summary measures provide an easy-to-grasp overview of the well-being of children in your community and the assets that support them.

One approach, using the Well-Being Index as a guide, is to focus on boosting the social & emotional skills of the children in your community directly. More information on the value of social-emotional learning, and resources to get you started, can be found here.

Another approach is focus on boosting external environmental supports using the Assets Index as a guide. Build on the Assets already present in your community to increase their impact and ensure all children have access to them.