The Whole Child Initiative seeks to improve the physical and social-emotional health, education and human service outcomes for children and their families, prenatal through age 8.


By 2032 Rochester will be A Whole Community for Whole Children—a city that values children and their families and prioritizes them in every way possible to ensure they thrive.


The Whole Child Initiative (WCI) has the overarching goal of improving health, education, and human service outcomes for children and their families across the developmental continuum, from pre-pregnancy, prenatal, and perinatal through early childhood, into kindergarten and through the 3rd grade. The WCI is designed to strategically address goals at the child, family, community and systems levels.

Our specific goals are to ensure that:

  • Children and families receive services and supports to meet universal and identified needs; they are healthy, thriving, meeting and maintaining their fullest developmental potential.
  • Children and families live in safe, stable, healthy, and nurturing families, neighborhoods and communities.
  • Children are prioritized and the whole community acts to support their health, safety, learning, and well-being.
  • Systems work for families and families are economically stable.

Current Conditions

The WCI was born from the reality that young children and their families are not a priority in the United States, New York State, or the Rochester community. The lack of public investment and coherent policies has resulted in poor child outcomes, generation after generation.

The WCI believes that it does not have to be this way! Many other states and communities do better. Rochester’s poor national ranking in terms of child poverty and academic performance persists as the systems established to attend to health, education, social services and economic security of children and their families are inadequate. Parents and family members, who are experts in knowing the processes that are working and the areas that need overhaul have been left out of decision-making spaces, which has specifically contributed to these failures.

Building Parent/Family Partner Power

Our theme for 2023 is Building Parent/Family Partner Power. This year, we are being more intentional about the way we engage parents by centering parent voice.

Toyin Anderson, Parent/Family Partner

“Parents are the experts on their children’s and family’s needs, and experts on their community. They understand best the issues facing their homes, families and neighborhoods but are too often left out of designing services and systems when they should be co-creating more effective solutions.”

Tina Carney, Parent/Family Partner

“I participate in the Whole Child Initiative because one of my children waited several months for early intervention speech services. Another child needlessly struggles in school because there’s a lack of awareness and understanding about dyslexia, neurodiversity, and how our brains learn to read, write, spell, and comprehend. I participate because I know I’m not alone — other families and children are struggling — and it doesn’t need to be that way.”

Parent/Family Partners

A key principle and value in our work is authentic and transformative parent/family engagement and leadership, with a focus on racial equity. Our distributed leadership model guarantees parents have a seat at the table, with 50% Parent/Family Partners and 50% System Partners driving the WCI.

The WCI provides Parent/Family Partners with all the tools they need to lead our mission, including training, professional development, and technology.

Cherriese Bufis, Parent/Family Partner, WCI Co-Chair

“I have greatly appreciated the respect, honor, integrity, and value I have been given as a Parent Family/Partner. I have never been a part of a collaborative where I have felt so heard and valued. I am excited to introduce the initiative to future Parent/Family Partners.”

Nahmese Bacot, Parent/Family Partner

“I was frustrated because the trained professionals and systems refused to see me as a partner and asset in achieving [my son’s] educational goals. When organizations learn to partner well with the adults in the lives of the children, they will become more effective.”

Interested in becoming a consultant with us? Use your voice as a parent/family partner to help make systems work better for kids.

Become a Parent Consultant

Collective Impact and Continuous Improvement

The WCI is informed by the StriveTogether model for systems change and equitable outcomes from cradle to career. The StriveTogether framework builds an infrastructure to support equitable outcomes for every child, cradle to career. This includes bringing people together, building capabilities, codifying learning to inform work across the country, strategically investing, and advocating for changes to systems that shape opportunity.

We publicly affirm our commitment to advance systems-level approaches that disrupt structural racism and build racial equity to ensure that children receive what they need to be safe, healthy, and successful.

For more information, please read the ROC the Future 2022 Report Card.