Policy Resource

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

Download Files Jun 21, 2022

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

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.

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

This webinar provides an overview of the report; highlights promising strategies for infusing family strengthening, child development principles, and parent voice into child welfare systems; highlights key research supporting the need to address the needs of infants and toddlers; and helps prevent families from entering the child welfare system and discuss the importance of creating a system that supports and is informed by parents.


  • Miriam Calderón, Chief Policy Officer, ZERO TO THREE
  • Brenda Jones Harden, PhD, Alison Richman Professor of Children and Families at the University of Maryland, School of Social Work and President of the ZERO TO THREE Board of Directors
  • Lindsay Calveri, Parent Leader
  • Torey Silloway, Director of Policy and Financing, Infant-Toddler Court Team, ZERO TO THREE


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.

  • Author

    Torey Silloway

    Director of Policy and Financing, National Infant-Toddler Court Program (ITCP)

  • Author

    Jaclyn Szrom

    Senior Policy Analyst, National Infant-Toddler Court Program (ITCP)