Many practical challenges remain in specifying such measures, and in gaining widespread agreement on their use. Nevertheless, culturally responsive, brief, clear, and reliable measures that could replace those that traditionally have required lengthy surveys, observational assessments, and specialized training would be welcome. Even so, nearly all constructs require that data be collected directly from children and families, rather than from administrative data systems, since these typically document only basic demographic and service use information. Moreover, the information in such systems generally focuses on problems, e.g., poverty, food insecurity, maltreatment, and developmental delays/disabilities. Accordingly, other approaches are needed to collect data on flourishing.
Findings from the research indicate that early investments can support positive child development and result in long-lasting benefits. However, in order to successfully implement policies and programs that help children flourish, there needs to be a way to define, measure, and monitor what is meant by “flourishing.” A new research brief from Child Trends, Flourishing From the Start: What Is It and How Can It Be Measured? (March 2017), discusses the importance of establishing a conceptual model for defining and achieving flourishing as well as feasible measurement methods for assessing flourishing in a variety of settings and for different purposes. The authors recommend a set of critical constructs that, if measured, would provide a more balanced view of children that highlights child well-being or flourishing as well as promotive and protective factors.