Policy Resource

Building Strong Foundations: Racial Inequity in Policies that Impact Infants, Toddlers, and Families

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This brief by ZERO TO THREE and the Center for Law and Social Policy explores racial disparities, and the policies that drive them, among infants, toddlers, and their families.

Infancy and toddlerhood are periods of incredible possibility and opportunity. Children grow and develop more rapidly during the first three years than any other time in their lives. Their everyday experiences shape their development and lay a foundation for future learning. With the right supports, every child in every family can get a strong start.

But the odds are stacked against infants and toddlers of color. Despite comprising a large share of our young child population, they disproportionately lack resources that help children and their families thrive. These disparities are rooted in discriminatory policies throughout U.S. history that have blocked opportunity for people of color. Families of color have always been resilient in the face of adversity, but the impacts of historical policy decisions persist today. Despite progress toward equity, current policies continue to fall short.

States need to recognize disparities, take concrete steps to reform policies, and invest in communities where resources are unequal. As a nation, we must ensure equity is at the forefront of every policy conversation to promote positive outcomes for our increasingly diverse population of young children.