Policy Resource

2017 Policy and Advocacy Achievements for Babies

Dec 21, 2017

Despite a year when vital services and programs for babies and their families were under continual threat, infant-toddler advocates have been instrumental in getting lawmakers to #ThinkBabies. Here are ten Policy and Advocacy Achievements for Babies in 2017!

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Families across the country should be buoyed by some good news for babies as they head into the New Year!

Very young children and their families faced herculean threats this year, with vital programs that give babies the support they need to succeed continually put at risk. In Washington, D.C. and in state capitals across the country, infant-toddler advocates have been instrumental in fighting to protect these programs and urging their policymakers to #ThinkBabies. As those threats continue into the new year, ZERO TO THREE will remain steadfast in urging policymakers to invest in the health and well-being of America’s babies - our future.

Despite these challenges, infant-toddler advocates also have cause for celebration. Thanks to your hard work and commitment, families across the country should be buoyed by some good news for babies as they head into the New Year!

Together, we celebrate the following 2017 Policy and Advocacy Achievements for Babies:

  1. The Affordable Care Act and Medicaid were preserved for pregnant women, babies, toddlers and families, thanks to sustained advocacy efforts throughout the year. Essential and preventive health care coverage remains available across the United States.
  2. Washington State approved paid family leave. Beginning in 2020, eligible workers will receive up to 12 weeks of paid time off to bond with new children or to care for their own or a family member’s serious medical condition.
  3. As part of Strolling Thunder, for the first time ever, families with babies from every state and Washington, D.C came to Capitol Hill to speak with their Members of Congress about the unique and crucial first three years of life.
  4. Several states increased or protected existing investments in babies and families. California added $250 million to raise reimbursement rates for state-funded child care and preschool; Pennsylvania approved $35 million in additional funding for community-based family centers, Part C, and child care subsidies; and New York awarded $6.5 million to pediatric and family medical practices to implement HealthySteps.
  5. Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Bobby Scott introduced the visionary Child Care for Working Families Act, addressing both the high cost and lack of quality child care for young children, with particular support for care for infants and toddlers.
  6. Several states improved their child care systems and supports. Pennsylvania revised its quality rating and improvement system, North Carolina engaged child care providers in an obesity prevention initiative, and Georgia awarded early language and literacy grants to infant-toddler classrooms.
  7. The House of Representatives included $5 million to fund Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) grants in its appropriations bill, still to be reconciled with the Senate. The money proposed would be used to fund the IECMH provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act, passed late in 2016.
  8. Texas improved access to maternal depression screening. Texas Medicaid and CHIP will now reimburse providers for postpartum depression screenings conducted during babies’ well-child visits.
  9. The Congressional Baby Caucus hosted a number of briefings for policymakers and staff focused on babies and their families. Topics ranged from the impacts of community violence to implicit bias and preschool expulsion to addressing toxic stress in babies.
  10. Arkansas strengthened diagnosis and treatment of infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH) in revised Medicaid rules. The rules call on providers to use the DC:0-3 manual (recently revised to DC:0–5™) to diagnose children aged 0-4 and allow for reimbursement of dyadic therapies.

While we celebrate every victory, we know that babies and their families will again be under formidable threat in 2018. We will need your expertise and your advocacy! Together, we will do everything we can to protect America’s future and make sure our policymakers #ThinkBabies!

What were your victories for babies in 2017? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #ThinkBabies!

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