Step One: Basic Needs Evaluation

These are questions for you to think about -- and thoughts to consider.
After evaluating how your family is doing, choose the goal for your family and go to Basic Needs Activities. Each numbered area has suggestions for activities to help you set a goal for your family.

Families who eat at least one meal together each day eat healthier meals and raise children who develop healthier eating habits, better language skills, earn better grades in school, and who are much less likely to have eating disorders, be obese, or take drugs. Mealtimes are a great time for family bonding!

Balanced and nutritious meals contain a variety of foods from all of the main food groups, and are important to maintain energy levels for learning. A good rule of thumb for a balanced meal is that half of your plate should contain a variety of fruits and vegetables, both cooked and raw, while ¼ of your plate should contain protein, such as a three ounce serving (about the size of one chicken drumstick) of meat or fish and the other ¼ should contain a serving of whole grains, such as brown rice or starchy foods like potatoes.

Q1: Do we prepare balanced and nutritious meals as a family, and do we sit down together at the table to eat at least once a day as a family?
  • A possible goal
  • Definitely a goal for my family

The American Association of Pediatrics recommends no more than two hours a day for children over two years old and no television viewing for children under two. An educational TV show every once in a while will not cause any permanent damage to a one-year-old child, but there are definite links to attention problems in children who have been exposed to violent media content while under the age of three. Media is a very powerful influencing factor with teens as well. Unsupervised and unrestricted musical content and "screen time" including television, computer, and video games, can bring unwanted influences into our homes. Some other things to consider are that unrestricted media exposure is linked to childhood obesity, lower grades in school, learning difficulties, less social interaction, less imaginative and active play, teen smoking, use of illegal drugs, and early sexual activity.

Q2: Has our family set limits on the content and length of time allowed for television viewing, video games, music, computer time, and other media in our home?

  • A possible goal
  • Definitely a goal for my family

If your family does not have health or dental insurance and if you meet low income guidelines, you may qualify for Medicaid. If you qualify for Medicaid, there are several other great programs, such as: Baby Your Baby; WIC and Utah's Premium Partnership for Health Insurance (UPP).

If you do not qualify for Medicaid, and you have no health insurance available, you can apply for CHIP or Utah's Primary care Network (PCN).

Public health care programs can change but you can find out about current programs from United Way by dialing 211 statewide.

Q3: Does every member of our family receive adequate health and dental care?
  • A possible goal
  • Definitely a goal for my family

How do I know if my family is getting enough sleep?

Getting enough sleep is important to your health because it boosts your immune system, and makes your body better able to fight disease. Sleep is also needed for your nervous system to work properly. Too little sleep makes you drowsy and unable to concentrate, and it impairs memory and physical performance.

The amount of sleep you need depends on many factors, especially your age. This table is a guideline.

Q4: Is my family well-rested with enough sleep each night?

  • A possible goal
  • Definitely a goal for my family
AgeHours sleep per Day
1-12 mo.14-16
1 year13-14
2-3 years12-13
4-5 years11-12
6-17 years9-10
Adults (varies)5-10
Older Adults Pregnant Womenmay need additional

A good “morning routine” includes activities done the night before to help make the morning as un-hurried as possible. Some things that you might do the night before include: make lunches, set out clothing and accessories, or hang coats and backpacks near the door. If you locate shoes the night before, you do not have to look for them in the morning! Waking up an hour before waking up the children allows you time to make a good breakfast or have some time to yourself before the day begins.
Q5: Does our family have morning routines that help us get to work, to school, or to childcare on time?
  • A possible goal
  • Definitely a goal for my family


You can prevent many accidents due to unsafe conditions by making sure that your home is clean and organized. Use a home safety checklist to help you recognize hazards.

Your child may spend a large amount of time at a childcare center or home. If your child cries excessively or seems afraid of the caregiver, or if the childcare facility does not meet your standards of cleanliness, or gives you worry in any way, you should not take those feelings lightly. You can also use a childcare provider safety checklist to rate the overall safety of your childcare provider. Discuss any problems that you find with your provider to improve the quality of your child's care.

Q6: Is my family's home and my child's care provider a clean and safe environment?
  • A possible goal
  • Definitely a goal for my family

Play is essential for a child's learning. Toys are the tools of play. Toys do not need to be expensive or fancy to hold a child's attention, and children do not need a lot of toys to be happy. One or two well-chosen educational toys are plenty, as long as the toys are safe, affordable, and developmentally appropriate. Toys can be made from empty, clean containers or other items found around your house. Just remember: toys are not a substitute for the most important things your children need -- warm, loving, dependable relationships with you!

Q7: Are my child's toys and books well organized and appropriate for children?

  • A possible goal
  • Definitely a goal for my family

At what age should a child be disciplined? Is spanking ever an appropriate way to discipline?

There is a lot of controversy over discipline and whether spanking is ever an appropriate way to discipline your children. The aim of discipline is to teach and to correct your child. Remember that no discipline at all can be just as harmful as abusive discipline practices and can cause just as much damage in the long run. No matter what approach you take, here are five questions that you can ask yourself in order to establish clear, long term goals and help you decide if a form of punishment will help you get the desired result.

  • Is my child purposefully trying to misbehave, or is she just acting out of curiosity or ignorance?
  • If she is acting out or misbehaving on purpose, why is she doing it? (Does she feel loved, safe, and secure in her present environment?)
  • Will redirection, gentle correction, or a change in his environment be more effective than a punishment this time?
  • Is the form of discipline I choose in line with the values I want to teach my child? (Will this form of punishment effectively teach my child not to hit, or to solve problems peacefully?)
  • How will the form of discipline that I choose help my child learn, and what will my child learn from it?
Q8: Do we discipline our children in a positive, nurturing way and recognize the good things they do and the wonderful people they are?
  • A possible goal
  • Definitely a goal for my family

It is too easy to lose yourself in the business of parenting once you have kids but if you don't get an occasional break from parenthood, you could end up feeling resentful. This is OK up to a point, but as with so many things in life, too much of a good thing can become a problem. To maintain the emotional reserve necessary to care for children, parents need to pay attention to their own needs. Remember that caring for yourself enables you to care best for your children. And when you do this, you also are modeling for your children how to live a balanced life.

Q9: As a parent, do I maintain healthy adult alone time to take care of my needs?

  • A possible goal
  • Definitely a goal for my family

A rapidly rising number of families are finding themselves in these situations:

  • they live in temporary housing, move frequently,
  • spend more than 1/3 of their income for shelter,
  • live in deteriorating housing conditions, or
  • feel afraid or unsafe in their homes or neighborhoods.

Due to the tight housing market which has driven rental and purchase prices up, many families can no longer provide stable housing in the communities where they work or where they grew up. Without safe, healthy and appropriate housing, it is much harder for children to learn, and for families to thrive.

For information about getting or giving help, call United Way by dialing 211.

Q10: Does our family have adequate clothing and shelter?
If not, who can help?
  • A possible goal
  • Definitely a goal for my family

What's Next