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Strengthening Families with Infants and Toddlers: A Policy Framework for States

States can implement a continuum of formal and informal community-based prevention and intervention strategies to reach all children and families that need support.
Mother and son

Strengthening Families with Infants and Toddlers: A Policy Framework for States, is a new report from ZERO TO THREE designed to reframe the role of child welfare from preventing harm to children toward strengthening families and the communities where they live. The policy framework includes 11 recommendations for states and communities that aim to advance equitable outcomes supporting the health and well-being of very young children and their families, including those who are in or are at risk of entering the child welfare system.

The report provides state and local policymakers with a roadmap to develop and advance policies that will drastically improve the systems and supports families with young children need to thrive and create protective factors that promote resilience. Promising examples from states and communities where ZERO TO THREE has effectively implemented the National Infant-Toddler Court Program based on the Safe Babies Court Team approach are also included in the report, highlighting strategies on how to infuse family strengthening, child development and parent voice into child welfare systems.

State and Local Examples

The policies highlighted in this framework are based on research and best practices in working with young children and their parents. Included is an Appendix of State and Local Examples which provides resources and contact information for each of the state and community examples included in the recommendations.


This framework was made possible through the support of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $19,581,161, with 0 percent financed from non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government.

ZERO TO THREE deeply appreciates Ballmer Group for its generous support of our work to scale the Safe Babies approach. We’d like to especially thank Connie Ballmer for her vision and commitment to transforming the child welfare system so that all babies thrive. Ballmer Group is committed to improving economic mobility for children and families in the United States, funding leaders and organizations that have demonstrated the ability to reshape opportunity and reduce systemic inequities.

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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.