The Springfield News-Leader has launched a public-service journalism project to focus public attention on critical challenges facing children, foster discussion and build on existing initiatives. You can read Executive Editor David Stoeffler's introductory column for more information on the project.

The recently created News-Leader's Every Child community advisory committee -- with representatives from the business, government, education, nonprofit, law enforcement, health and faith sectors -- will play an important role. It will educate and advise journalists and help engage other stakeholders and the general public in a discussion and, ultimately, action.

Habits for good dental health start early

June 18, 2012

Parents may not realize it, but in this area, sweet tea and juice seem to be contributing to cavities, said Nick Hein, a dentist at the The Children’s Smile Center in Ozark.

Read the nutrition labels, go for variety

June 16, 2012

If you give kids the opportunity to make healthy choices, they often do, said Allison Halter, a nurse at a local school that has implemented a fresh garden bar. The children at St.

Poor nutrition in childhood can lead to lifelong health problems

June 16, 2012

Angela Jenkins has seen firsthand the effects of poor nutrition on children in the Ozarks. Within the past year, Jenkins, a registered dietitian at CoxHealth, had as a patient a toddler with metabolic syndrome, a precursor to Type II diabetes.

Grants, volunteers lift Heart of the Ozarks

May 27, 2012

Heart of the Ozarks was founded in 2004 by Philip Wilson. At that time, Dayspring Church operated a food bank and Christmas program but couldn’t sustain them, so Wilson offered to take those programs over and fold them into Heart of the Ozarks.

Program puts focus on importance of healthful foods

May 26, 2012

Sometimes we need to rethink and relearn what we should be eating, says Torrie Bedell, mother and stepmother of four. This realization came after Bedell went through Family First, a pilot program under the nonprofit Heart of the Ozarks.

Nutritious options don't have to cost much

May 26, 2012

Many low-income families struggle to feed their families healthy food when they’re on a tight budget. But there are nutritious buys for less than $1 a serving and many are 50 cents a serving (less than a candy bar).

Survivor: It's hard to ask for help

May 6, 2012

Dawn Rodman was a cutter. There’s a scar on her left arm and multiple scars on her right leg above her knee. Sometimes Dawn, now 22, would cut herself with a buck knife, going as deep as an inch. Sometimes she used a piece of glass.

Care funding comes, goes

May 6, 2012

Burrell Behavioral Health partnered with Springfield Public Schools for four years to provide mental health counseling in the schools to at-risk students.

Medicaid coverage is no guarantee of care

April 21, 2012

Adults on Medicaid in Missouri have to be blind, pregnant or in a nursing home to qualify for dental care. It’s better for children. The federal government requires dental coverage for children on Medicaid in Missouri and other states.

Grant for asthma care runs out in '13

April 21, 2012

Children in Springfield Public Schools miss more school days for asthma than any other health condition. The district’s experience is representative of problems nationwide, said Jean Grabeel, the district’s coordinator of health services.

Woman overcoming meth abuse for her kids

February 26, 2012

Jennifer Daly thought at first that meth made her a better mom. She wasn’t depressed all the time and had the energy to take her two children to the park or on walks. That was before the arrest … before her two children were taken away …