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Child and Family Development

Healthy children and families are the foundation of strong, prosperous communities. In partnership with the Land-Grant University and Cooperative Extension System, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) supports efforts that take a holistic, life-span approach to promoting healthy physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development for individuals and families within their diverse ecologies.

NIFA’s Child and Family Development Program strengthens and enhances the well-being of children, adults, and families by supporting research, education, and extension in the areas of prenatal care; early childhood health, nutrition, and care; maternal health; parenting education; adult and family relationships; adult development and aging; kinship care; intergenerational programming; rural health disparities; rural health and safety; and professional development in early childhood and adult care.


NIFA funds research that examines the nature of interactions between individual and contextual factors and the impact those interactions have on health and behavior. This research then informs education and outreach focused on health promotion, positive behavioral practices, and reduction of risk factors.

Education and Extension

Formal and non-formal community-based educational programs for individuals and families help raise public understanding of human development. These educational programs also help families and individuals attain the skills to support and sustain healthy development and lifestyles over time and across settings. Via face-to-face courses, web-based curricula, eXtension communities of practice, and other educational outlets, Cooperative Extension delivers knowledge through programs and professional development opportunities that are research based and culturally appropriate.

Program type
Emphasis Area Program

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