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updated: 6/19/2013 12:00 PM

DuPage among America's 50 healthiest counties for kids

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Dave Hass

DUPAGE COUNTY--The DuPage County Health Department is proud to announce that DuPage County is ranked among "America's 50 Healthiest Counties for Kids," as reported by U.S. News and World Report.

DuPage County is the only Illinois county on the list, which highlights communities that are safe and child-friendly. DuPage County is No. 20 on the list with a score of 87.2 out of a possible 100 points.

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"America's 50 Healthiest Counties for Kids" is a new set of rankings by U.S. News that identifies counties that feature, among other child-friendly data, fewer infant deaths, fewer low-birth-rate babies, fewer deaths from injuries, fewer teen births and fewer children in poverty.

"This ranking is a result of the Health Department's commitment to the healthcare needs of all DuPage County children and families," said Linda Kurzawa, President of the DuPage County Board of Health.

Services for children include:

• The Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) was launched in 2011 and has enrolled 125 families. NFP assists eligible first-time mothers who get education and support from Health Department nurses during home visits.

• Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and Family Case Management services are provided to more than 24,000 women, infants and children each year. The Health Department is building on that success by improving the efficiency of the enrollment process so more eligible residents can obtain services.

• Eligible children receive oral healthcare through the Smile Squad mobile van which travels throughout the county providing in-school dental sealant applications and oral health exams, and in the Urgent Care Clinic in Central Office, which was expanded from three to five treatment rooms in 2012.

• Behavioral Health Services provides mental health services to children and adolescents and recently revised its service delivery model, which has resulted in a 35 percent increase in the number of clients, including children, being served each month.

• FORWARD, an initiative to encourage active living and healthy eating, was launched in 2009 and currently has 1,165 Coalition members working to reduce the number of children who are overweight or obese.

• Health Educators taught healthy behaviors to 23,488 children and others in 2012, which was a 29 percent increase from 2011. Children are taught to prevent diseases instead of attempting to manage them later in life.

The rankings, which were released as part of U.S. News Best Children's Hospitals 2013-2014, represent the first national, county-level assessment of how health and environmental factors affect the well-being of children younger than 18. The rankings were developed with the help of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

For more information, follow us on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, or visit www.dupagehealth.org.

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