Tracking Services for Infants, Toddlers & Their Families: A Look at Federal Early Childhood Programs and the Roles of State and Local Governments
There are a variety of federal programs which address the needs of young children and their families. Government programs can be complex, however, and it can be difficult to keep track of how the programs are organized, funded and operated. To help members of the ZERO TO THREE Policy Network in their advocacy for infants and toddlers, this chart summarizes the primary federal programs currently focused on very young children and the roles of federal, state and local governments in those programs.
Federal Policy Update
Legislative plans for the House of Representatives were put on hold last week, following the tragic shooting of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others. Our condolences go out to the families of the six people who were killed in the attack. They included a Congressional staffer, a federal judge, a nine-year-old girl, and three other citizens who had come out to speak with their Congresswoman. Please keep all the victims and their families in your thoughts and prayers.
In meeting with constituents, Representative Giffords was simply doing her job. Other Members of Congress have expressed the resolve not to be deterred from this type of opportunity and responsibility so central to our form of government. We underscore the importance of this function, because we encourage you as advocates for infants and toddlers to make contact with your elected representatives and help educate them about the needs of our youngest children. This month's advocacy milestone is to invite your Senators and Representatives to visit early childhood programs serving infants and toddlers. We urge you to persist in achieving this milestone, even though it may take several months to reach your goal!
We are beginning to learn more about the membership and leaders of key Committees, although assignments won't be finalized until the end of the month. At that time, we will post a complete list of policymakers important to infants and toddlers. Some House Committee leadership positions that we do know include: Committee on Education and the Workforce, to be chaired by John Kline (MN) with George Miller (CA) as ranking Democrat; Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, to be chaired by Denny Rehberg (MT) with Rosa DeLauro (CT) as ranking Democrat; and Ways and Means, to be chaired by Dave Camp (MI) with Sander Levin (MI) as ranking Democrat. In the Senate, Tom Harkin (Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions), Daniel Inouye (Appropriations Full Committee), and Max Baucus (Finance) will retain their chairmanships.
State Policy Update
Virginia's Infant & Toddler Specialist Network Builds on Local Initiatives
In an effort to improve the quality of care for infants and toddlers, Virginia implemented an Infant-Toddler Specialist Network (ITSN) that builds on existing community initiatives and partnerships. Child Development Resources (CDR), a nonprofit involved in several early childhood projects in the state, was selected by the Virginia Department of Social Services to administer the ITSN. With CDR's oversight, there are eight regional offices of the VA ITSN that provide comprehensive services throughout the state. CDR made an intentional effort to select diverse regional offices, such as institutions of higher education, child-focused nonprofits, and county government agencies, so that each would bring unique knowledge, experience, and strategies to the project. Each regional office is responsible for hiring and supervising its infant-toddler specialist(s). The state's 13 specialists provide three levels of service based on need to child care providers (both centers and family homes): intensive on-site consultation and support using quality improvement plans; group training and technical assistance; and provision of resources including linkages. To maintain consistency across regions, Virginia developed specialist training and service delivery guidelines. The VA ITSN also established a robust data system that allows CDR to see where services are being provided, track child care providers' quality improvement, identify communities that are underserved, and evaluate the overall success of the Network. The activities of the VA ITSN are guided by a state-level leadership council.
Read the full state policy update now!
Publications & Resources
New Brief on the Role of Developmental Screenings in Medicaid and CHIP
This brief from the Urban Institute examines the large gaps in early identification that exist in Medicaid, the nation's largest health insurance program for children, in which eligible children are entitled to regular screenings. Many young children have health, developmental or behavioral problems that are not identified before entering kindergarten, preventing them from receiving early intervention services. To address these problems, states can take a number of steps within the Medicaid/CHIP policy environment.
Article Highlights Importance of Early Years in School Readiness
"School Readiness Begins in Infancy," a new article from co-director of the Center for Child & Family Studies at WestEd and ZERO TO THREE Board Member J. Ronald Lally, summarizes the research on what babies need for optimal learning and development and contrasts these needs to what babies currently get. The article makes the case for a specific policy agenda to improve services for infants and toddlers as the foundation for any effective school readiness intervention, and features a set of seven policy recommendations to address the early development of our nation's children. Read an abstract of the article here.
New Video on Impact of the Early Years
The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University has released a new online video, entitled InBrief: The Foundations of Lifelong Health, which explains why a vital and productive society with a prosperous and sustainable future is built on a foundation of healthy child development.