The youngest children in the child welfare system face the greatest risks.
The youngest children in the child welfare system face the greatest risks. In this issue’s first article, researchers share new data analysis revealing that the rate of children less than 1 year old entering foster care is on the increase, making up 25% of the total number of children entering care. The authors also discuss indicators related to placement settings, length of stay, placement stability, exit reasons, and reentry. A disturbing trend in the child welfare system is the cycle of abuse that can affect families for generations. In an article describing how abusive parents are often the victims of childhood trauma themselves, the author describes how intervention with these parents must address this historical trauma in order to build healthy parent–child relationships. Similarly, the importance of attachment is highlighted in the article describing the evidence-based Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-up intervention. Additional articles in this issue of Zero to Three raise awareness in several important areas of emerging interest. One article explores the concept of post-adoption depression, and how it is similar to and different from post-partum depression. Another article describes the latest knowledge on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and presents strategies professionals can use when working with affected children and parents. And the third area of interest is the impact of social and political conflict that results in forced or accidental separation of children from their caregivers. The challenges and issues facing the child welfare system are complex, but much can be done to improve outcomes for children. To better address the needs of infants and toddlers in the child welfare system, ZERO TO THREE executive director Matthew Melmed presents a Call to Action advocating for a policy agenda that makes vulnerable infants and toddlers a priority and ensures that the knowledge derived from the science of early childhood development is reflected in the policies and programs for young children and their families.