We know from science that brains are built from the bottom up. The early experiences of young children will shape the architecture of their brains in enduring ways and build the foundation –– for their future development. It is essential that families have access to a continuum of services and supports that promote early developmental health and family wellbeing. The new Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems: Health Integration Prenatal-to-Three (ECCS) Program offers 20 grantees (CO, FL, HI, IL, LA, ME, MI, MN, MO, NJ, NM, NV, NY, PA, RI, SD, UT, VA, VT, and WA) an opportunity to build/strengthen integrated maternal and early childhood systems to better support families.
Goals for the program are to:
• Increase state-level infrastructure and capacity to develop and/or strengthen statewide maternal and early childhood systems of care;
• Increase coordination and alignment between maternal and child health (MCH) and other statewide systems that impact young children and families to advance a common vision for early developmental health and family well-being;
• Increase the capacity of health systems to deliver and effectively connect families to a continuum of services that promote early developmental health and family well-being, beginning prenatally;
• Identify and implement policy and financing strategies that support the funding and sustainability of multigenerational, preventive services and systems for the P–3 population; and
• Increase state-level capacity to advance equitable and improved access to services for underserved P–3 populations.
To advance these goals, recipients will pursue the following core objectives:
1) Increase the number of family and professional leaders engaged in state-level maternal and early childhood initiatives;
2) Develop (or strengthen) and implement a cross-sector state-level maternal and early childhood strategic plan that integrates health with other P–3 systems and programs;
3) Increase the participation of health providers (including obstetricians and pediatricians) in coordinated intake and referral systems (CIRS) or other centralized intake and data coordination efforts for the maternal and P–3 population;
4) Demonstrate progress toward critical policy and financing changes, as identified in state maternal and early childhood strategic plans; and
5) Set specific and measurable P–3 health equity goals in the statewide early childhood strategic plan.
Although this iteration of ECCS does not permit awardees to use funds to provide direct services, the work that will be done through the program to develop and implement a cross-sector state-level maternal and early childhood strategic plan will create opportunities to:
• center family voice in assessing the current landscape and determining priorities to create equitable, sustainable and comprehensive systems of care
• strengthen connections between early childhood and health professionals and programs
• identify promising practices and community initiatives that could be scaled up
• strengthen infrastructure such as coordinated intake and referral systems, workforce development, and data systems
• identify and make progress on policy and financing goals needed to implement the strategic plan.