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Little Kids, Big Questions
is a series of 12 podcasts that translates the research of early childhood development into parenting practices that mothers, fathers and other caregivers can tailor to the needs of their own child and family. Click here to listen to or download the podcasts. This podcast series is generously funded by MetLife Foundation.

Professional Resources

The Road to Quality: From Classrooms to Systems
This proceedings paper summarizes a 2015 quality improvement policy summit held by First 5 California with assistance from WestEd and ZERO TO THREE. The paper includes overarching themes across summit presentations and policy recommendations to encourage continuous quality improvement in programs serving young children in California. View the Executive Summary

Infants and Toddlers in the Policy Picture: A Self-Assessment Toolkit for States
This toolkit is intended to help state policy leaders and advocates assess the current status of services for infants, toddlers, and their families, and to set priorities for improvement. The toolkit is divided into sections focused on four goals of a state early childhood system: good health, strong families, positive early learning experiences, and collaboration and system building. A user-friendly format allows users to easily access state information from national sources, assess how your state compares to other states, and gather stakeholder input.

State Policy Tracker
View this at-a-glance resource to see which states have important policies in place to promote high-quality programs for infants and toddlers and build the capacity of the workforce.

Key Considerations from ZERO TO THREE: Recommendations to the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council Committee on Supporting the Parents of Young Children
Read ZERO TO THREE’s suggestions for a roadmap for future parent supports including challenges and recommendations to improve policy and practice.

A Place to Get Started: Innovation in State Infant and Toddler Policies
As public awareness of the importance of the earliest years grows, states are considering many possible ways to improve and better coordinate services for infants and toddlers and their families. This policy brief developed by the ZERO TO THREE Policy Center describes eight strategies that policymakers can consider as they determine how to get started, including examples of states currently implementing each of the strategies.

Supporting Babies Through QRIS
Supporting Babies Through QRIS is a series of documents developed by ZERO TO THREE’s Policy Center to help ensure that Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) are supporting the unique developmental needs of infants and toddlers. The documents present a national review of states’ and jurisdictions’ QRIS that have been implemented statewide and illustrate some examples of QRIS standards and supports that have been included across the nation to help programs promote young children’s development and learning. The series includes Implementation Status and Tools in US States and Other Jurisdictions, Inclusion of Infant and Toddler Quality Standards, and A Self-Assessment Tool for US States and Other Jurisdictions.

Infant, Toddler, and Early Childhood Mental Health Competencies:  A Comparison of Systems
This report by ZERO TO THREE and the Erikson Institute examines how different state working groups have articulated the knowledge and skills that providers of mental health services (or mental health infused services) should have, and how these competencies are being used.  Six systems are highlighted — California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and Vermont.  This report reviews what is meant by infant, toddler, and early childhood mental health competencies, provides a brief overview of the six competency systems that are the focus of the review,  shares results of the comparative analysis and summarizes areas of agreement and disagreement, and discusses the relevance of these competency systems to the current early childhood mental health movement.  This report is an update of a 2008 review of early childhood mental health competency systems by Jon Korfmacher and Aimee Hilado.

Race To The Top: The Early Learning (ELC) Challenge - Resource Page
ZERO TO THREE has developed a number of resources related to the ELC, including a toolkit outlining how states can use the ELC to benefit infants and toddlers and articles detailing how each round of ELC grantees’ are targeting very young children. A new article analyzing the most recent grantees’ applications was released June 2014.

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Nurturing Change: State Strategies for Improving Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health

This paper provides an in-depth look at some of the promising strategies states have employed to address I-ECMH access, delivery, financing, evidence base, and systems-level issues across the promotion, prevention, and treatment continuum.  State policymakers will find actionable models and policy strategies, as well as strategic questions to consider in planning for I-ECMH.  Click here to view!


Expanding Access to Early Head Start: State Initiatives for Infants and Toddlers at Risk
This joint report by ZERO TO THREE and CLASP draws on newly conducted research on state efforts to expand and enhance access to Early Head Start services for infants, toddlers, and their families. It describes the diverse strategies states are using to build upon Early Head Start and offers recommendations for states interested in expanding this proven program. The report builds on a previous paper, Building on the Promise: State Initiatives to Expand Access to Early Head Start for Young Children and their Families, released by the two organizations in 2008.

In addition to the paper, ZERO TO THREE and CLASP updated profiles of states with initiatives to expand and enhance Early Head Start. Download them below.

Illinois Child Care Collaboration Initiative


Illinois Prevention Initiative








A Developmental Approach to Child Welfare Services for Infants, Toddlers, and Their Families: A Self-Assessment Tool for States and Counties Administering Child Welfare Services
This self-assessment tool stems from the collective vision of leading child welfare and early childhood development organizations. It is designed to help states and counties both prepare to meet the new federal requirements for state child welfare plans and conduct ongoing assessment and quality improvement efforts by: assessing how well their child welfare practices and policies address the developmental needs of infants and toddlers; identifying where and how policies and practices can be improved; and engaging partners in taking constructive action.

Staffed Family Child Care Networks: A Strategy to Enhance Quality Care for Infants and Toddlers
This paper defines staffed Family Child Care (FCC) networks and examines how they are uniquely positioned to improve the quality of care that infants and toddlers receive in FCC settings.

Making It Happen: Overcoming Barriers to Providing Infant-Early Childhood Mental Health
This article is intended to illuminate the scientific evidence for I-ECMH policies; examine issues faced by national, state, and local program directors and mental health practitioners in providing I-ECMH services; and propose a set of recommendations for policy improvements at the federal level.

Home Visiting Community Planning Tool
This tool from ZERO TO THREE guides communities through the process of creating new or expanding existing home visiting services that meet their unique needs. It helps communities use data to identify their strengths, needs, and gaps in current home visiting services; choose an evidence-based program model; and align work at the local level with state efforts. Though this tool is relevant to any situation in which home visiting services are being explored, it is especially useful for communities receiving funding through the federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program.

Inspiring Innovation: Creative State Financing Structures for Infant-Toddler Services
This joint paper from ZERO TO THREE and the Ounce of Prevention Fund highlights the work of four states—Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma—that have developed innovative financing structures to support services for at-risk infants and toddlers. It reveals key policy elements that cut across all four states, as well as strategic decisions, lessons, and recommendations critical to the establishment of particular financing structures that support high-quality programs for infants and toddlers.

Early Learning Guidelines for Infants and Toddlers:  Recommendations for States
This report by ZERO TO THREE, drawing on the expertise of national and state leaders, offers recommendations and examples to states as they embark on an inclusive process to develop or refine research-based early learning guidelines for infants and toddlers.  This report focuses on the unique and foundational nature of the infant and toddler period and addresses issues related to both process and content.  It is offered as a road map for states as they develop policies and programs that lay a strong foundation for child development and future learning through responsive, appropriate, and high-quality early experiences.

Charting Progress for Babies Policy Framework
In the first year of the multi-year Charting Progress for Babies in Child Care project; The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) collaborated with ZERO TO THREE to develop a Policy Framework. The Framework offers four fundamental principles which form a basis for the supports that all babies and toddlers in child care need. In addition, the Policy Framework offers 15 recommendations that should be tackled in state child care licensing, quality, and subsidy policies. 

Common Vision, Different Paths:  Five States’ Journeys toward Comprehensive Prenatal-to-Five Systems
A joint report from ZERO TO THREE and Pre-K Now articulates a common vision for early childhood systems in which programs work effectively with each other to provide high-quality early learning and comprehensive services.  The report reveals lessons learned from five states’ unique journeys toward such prenatal-to-five systems and identifies four cornerstones that have helped states succeed in this work.  Advocates and policymakers will also find guidance on building on the momentum around individual programs for the larger push toward a system that works for all young children and families. To request printed copies, e-mail Kimberly Lagomarsino.

State Policies to Improve the Odds for the Healthy Development and School Readiness of Infants and Toddlers
How state policymakers and agency administrators choose to allocate funds, promote quality, and establish eligibility criteria influence who has access to essential supports and who does not.  This can be particularly important for vulnerable infants and toddlers.  Based on The National Center for Children in Poverty's (NCCP) Improving the Odds for Young Children project, this article profiles each state's infant and toddler policy choices, and recognizes choices that go above and beyond the minimum requirements dictated at the federal level.

Characteristics of Early Childhood System Building Initiatives in Communities
Summarizes characteristics of early childhood system building initiatives in the communities featured at a national policy summit, “In Our Own Backyards:  Local Initiatives that Change Young Children’s Lives,” held in Cleveland on June 6 8, 2007 and co-hosted by ZERO TO THREE and Cuyahoga County, Ohio’s Invest in Children.

In Our Own Backyards: Local Initiatives that Change Young Children's Lives
Building comprehensive systems for young children requires new ways of doing business at both the state and local levels.  Local communities in particular play an important role in building and managing an early childhood system, serving as laboratories for what can and does work.  This article announces a national policy summit, cohosted by ZERO TO THREE and Cuyahoga County, Ohio’s Invest in Children, that focuses on early childhood system building in communities, and also gives tips on how to Be a Voice for Babies and play an active role in your community's system building.

Helping Young Children Succeed

Describes how state policymakers can support the healthy social-emotional development of young children from birth to age five. The brief defines early childhood social-emotional development; describes what can happen when children face emotional and behavioral problems; and outlines what actions can be taken at the state level to support healthy social-emotional development in babies and young children (joint research and policy report developed by ZERO TO THREE and the National Conference of State Legislatures).



Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge
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Expanding Access to Early Head Start: State Initiatives for Infants and Toddlers at Risk
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State Baby Facts
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Community Initiatives
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1255 23rd Street, NW, Suite 350, Washington, DC 20037 | Phone: (202) 638-1144 | Fax: (202) 638-0851

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