On November 6th, more than 10,000 babies were born in the United States, representing our country’s next generation of workers, thinkers, and leaders. Each of these 10,000 youngsters brings with him or her infinite potential in need of support from the many new faces in Congress, governors’ mansions, and state legislatures across the country.
For newly elected officials, or those that have been re-elected, there is a proven way to build a healthy future for their communities: investing in their youngest constituents. By championing policies and programs that promote good health, strong families, and positive learning experiences for infants and toddlers, policymakers at all levels of government can make an important investment in the families they serve today, as well as our country’s future.
While much of the national focus has been on our country’s sharp divides, one point of clarity has emerged from the campaign season: issues impacting infants, toddlers, and their families are being touted by both sides of the aisle, crossing political, geographic, and demographic lines. Building on the historic increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, enacted with bipartisan support earlier this year, candidates continued to call for expanding care to meet families’ needs. Paid family leave was a key talking point for candidates across the political spectrum. Helping families get health care, particularly through expanding Medicaid, turned up in campaign speeches and on the ballot in several states. So, what will it take to turn campaign talk into real action for babies and families?
We can’t predict what the 10,000 babies born on Election Day will grow up to be. They will be passionate for music, the environment, law, art, and medicine. But no matter where their passions lie, their future success depends on the groundwork that our policymakers create now, including:
- Investments to ensure all families can access quality, affordable child care, with a major effort to improve the quality of infant-toddler care.
- A national paid family leave policy to ensure new parents, both dads and moms, get critical time to bond and spend with their newborns.
- Extension of Early Head Start’s two-generation approach to ensure that more families can benefit from its comprehensive services.
- Expanding infant and early childhood mental health grants that support children’s healthy emotional development from the start, preventing a wide range of problems.
As our policymakers prepare to begin their new terms in January, ZERO TO THREE is committed to continuing to work with them to advance our shared priorities for infants, toddlers, and their families. No matter their party, each and every elected official represents a champion for babies. And we know that the only way to make babies’ potential a national priority is through the collective voice of advocates, like you. It’s time to let policymakers know what we know: the future begins with babies. Join us by signing up at ThinkBabies.org.