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Child Welfare

Transforming child welfare to child well-being.

Every baby is born with unlimited potential. Every family wants to help their child reach this potential and needs support from their village—family, friends, caregivers, educators. But some families experience barriers to raising their children — community violence, racism, trauma, or health issues—challenging their ability to provide safety and stability.

We all have a shared responsibility to nurture and protect each child’s potential. ZERO TO THREE works to advance federal, state, and local policy and systems change to strengthen families. Through a coordinated system of formal and informal supports, communities can buffer the effects of trauma and stress on families before a crisis occurs.  

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    We all have a shared responsibility to nurture and protect each child’s potential.

    Why It Matters

    Experiencing toxic stress early in life, without support, can have long-term negative effects like disrupting healthy brain development.

    Providing support to strengthen families who have experienced extreme hardships or traumatic events makes resilience not just possible, but probable. When families thrive, babies thrive.

    By The Numbers

    Intervention in the first three years can make a world of difference in the lives of  children. Connecting babies and their families with the support and services they need to ensure healthy development and lasting permanency.


    Every seven minutes, an infant or toddler in the U.S. is removed from their family.


    Currently, very young children make up the largest age groups of children entering foster care —33 percent of children entering foster care are under age 3.

    Numerous studies have shown that racial bias and racial inequities occur at various decision points in the child welfare continuum; Black children, with the same rates of abuse and neglect as white children, are removed from home more frequently due to implicit bias in the system.[i]

    [i] Osofsky, J. D., Fraser, J. G., & Huffer, A. (with Huddleston, J., Allen, D., Citrin, A., Gallion, J., & John, S. G.). (2021). The Safe Babies Court TeamTM approach: Creating the context for addressing racial inequities in child welfare. ZERO TO THREE Journal, 42(1), 48–60.

    Our Impact

    We support communities and families to create the safe, stable, nurturing environment children need to reach their potential.

    For families that interact with the child welfare system, ZERO TO THREE’s evidence-based Safe Babies Court Team™ approach ignites collective action in local communities to strengthen families experiencing extreme hardships and meet the urgent needs of infants and toddlers who are under court jurisdiction and/or in foster care.

    America’s babies need broad, bold changes to ensure their well-being.

    American families are facing an unprecedented confluence of challenges – a health crisis, a financial crisis, and a racial equity reckoning. There could be no more compelling time than this moment for transformational change in child welfare.

    Hon. Bobbe J. Bridge
    Retired, Associate Justice, Washington Supreme Court

    By supporting states and local communities, we can work to get ahead of the overwhelming stressors on families, setting each baby up for living a life of promise. For families that experience overwhelming stressors and hardships, the support should be even more accessible and purposeful.

    Join us in telling policymakers that reducing poverty, improving access to essential services, and strengthening our communities buffers families so babies can thrive. We envision a society where the conditions in which families live, learn, work and play, cultivate well-being, ultimately eliminating the need for any baby to be removed from their family.

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