Home/About/Media/ZERO TO THREE Affirms CDC: Racism is a Public Health Issue

ZERO TO THREE Affirms CDC: Racism is a Public Health Issue

Advancing racial equity is key to supporting all infants and toddlers

WASHINGTON — This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a landmark statement affirming that racism is indeed a public health issue. ZERO TO THREE, the country’s leading early childhood development nonprofit dedicated to ensuring all babies and toddlers have a strong start in life, commended the federal agency and affirmed that racial equity is of the utmost importance when it comes to infant health.

ZERO TO THREE Executive Director Matthew Melmed stated:

“The health of babies and toddlers can be a significant predictor of lifelong flourishing. In these early years, children’s brains are like little recording devices, always on and picking everything up from the good to the bad. Racism harms young children’s long-term well-being and healthy development, and our society suffers. Research shows that children of color are disproportionately represented at all levels of the child welfare system, where they then receive disparate treatments and outcomes. And we know that inequities that impact early childhood development start even before birth.

“Advancing racial equity is essential to ZERO TO THREE’s mission to give all babies a strong start in life. When all babies and toddlers have what they need to reach their full potential, we all benefit. This includes ensuring every baby has the opportunity to be valued and loved and to be taught to care for and be compassionate to others, regardless of their backgrounds. We cannot improve the lives of babies, toddlers, and their families without addressing racial equity.

“We commend the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for naming racism as a serious threat to public health.”

A previous statement from ZERO TO THREE on the impact of racism on early childhood development can be found here.

An overview of how ZERO TO THREE’s HealthySteps program addresses health equity and improves outcomes for children and families of color or with low incomes can be found here.

Resources are available from the National Infant-Toddler Court Program regarding equity and social justice in the child welfare system.


ZERO TO THREE works to ensure all babies and toddlers benefit from the family and community connections critical to their well-being and development. Since 1977, the organization has advanced the proven power of nurturing relationships by transforming the science of early childhood into helpful resources, practical tools and responsive policies for millions of parents, professionals and policymakers. For more information, and to learn how to become a ZERO TO THREE member, please visit zerotothree.org, facebook.com/ZEROTOTHREE or follow @ZEROTOTHREE on Twitter.

Related News


We need your support now more than ever to ensure all babies have access to the quality care, services and support they need to thrive.