Comprehensive, bold budget would transform key policies impacting babies and families
This morning, the Senate took a significant step toward a once-in-a-generation investment in families and young children nationwide. The $3.5 trillion budget resolution would invest in the comprehensive family policy that our nation has lacked and would help millions of babies reach their full potential. ZERO TO THREE, the country’s leading early childhood development nonprofit dedicated to ensuring all babies and toddlers have a strong start in life, hailed the budget resolution as a strong step toward the bold baby agenda families in America need to thrive.
ZERO TO THREE Chief Policy Officer Dr. Myra Jones-Taylor stated:
“America needs to invest in our economy, our infrastructure, and our babies to build a system that supports the health and well-being of young children and their families. Millions of parents in this country are forced to make impossible decisions every single day about caring for and supporting their babies. Today, we are on the cusp of shoring up our crumbling care infrastructure and supporting families and parents in providing for their children.
“This budget resolution answers the call for a baby agenda that paves the way for healthy development with paid family and medical leave; a comprehensive child care system that addresses both the high costs and limited supply of quality care that plagues parents with young children; and an enhanced Child Tax Credit that, if made permanent, is poised to cut child poverty in half. This resolution also includes provisions that address issues important to babies’ security and their physical, social, and emotional development, including health care, child nutrition, mental health, housing, and climate change.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to respond to families’ needs today and to build a strong foundation for generations to come. We have the opportunity and the momentum to get this right, but only if we keep at it until we get over the finish line. Our babies are counting on us.”
Research shows that the earliest years of a child’s life are the time of fastest brain development. When babies have consistent, warm, nurturing interactions with primary adults in their lives, it leads to healthy brain development and helps babies develop a strong foundation for the skills they will need throughout their lives. Even before the pandemic, however, families lacked the support to weather the pandemic. The State of Babies Yearbook: 2021offsite link shows that:
- Just 4.2 percent of infants and toddlers at or below 150 percent of their state median income (the eligibility limit in the President’s child care planoffsite link) currently receive a child care subsidy.
- 85 percent of working people in the United States do not have access to paid leave through their employers, forcing many parents to make the impossible choice between taking the time they need to bond with and care for their babies or losing their jobs and their economic security.
- Even before the pandemic, 40 percent of babies lived in families without enough income to make ends meet, often due to structural and historic inequalities. Additionally, Black (34.38%) and Hispanic (25.27%) infants and toddlers are more likely than the already high average of nearly one in five babies to live in poverty.
To learn more about what families with young children need to build back stronger following the COVID-19 pandemic, read ZERO TO THREE’s policy resources and recommendations.
More information on what policies represent the top priorities for babies can be found at Think Babiesoffsite link.