Building Strong Foundations: Advancing Comprehensive Policies for Infants, Toddlers, and Families
The earliest years of life are a period of incredible growth and opportunity to shape strong and positive development from the start. Good health, secure and stable families, and positive early learning environments are necessary to foster children’s physical, intellectual, and social-emotional development during this significant period.
ZERO TO THREE and the Center for Law and Social Policy’s (CLASP) Building Strong Foundations: Advancing Comprehensive Policies for Infants, Toddlers, and Families project seeks to promote federal and state policies that comprehensively address the well-being of infants, toddlers, and families. This project is guided by a Policy Framework, which is comprised of four principles describing the needs of infants and toddlers and their families based on a large body of developmental research.
ZERO TO THREE and CLASP developed several resources as part of this project:
- From the Ground Up: Establishing Strong Core Policies for Infants, Toddlers, and Families describes the rationale for investing in programs that support children’s development in the earliest years of life.
- Policy Framework for Infants, Toddlers, and Families outlines the universal needs of infants, toddlers and families.
- 13 Core Policies for Infants, Toddlers, and Families identifies 13 policies core to advancing infant-toddler well-being. Each core policy area falls within one sector of the Policy Framework. ZERO TO THREE and CLASP also wrote short briefs about each core policy, which are at the bottom of this page.
- Building Strong Foundations: Racial Inequity in Policies that Impact Infants, Toddlers, and Families explores racial disparities, and the policies that drive them, among infants, toddlers, and their families.
- Advancing Comprehensive Policies for Infants, Toddlers, and Families describes six policy opportunities that are ripe for action.
Recognizing that states achieve better outcomes for infants, toddlers, and families when services are coordinated and connected, ZERO TO THREE developed a series of case studies and a companion brief highlighting how four states (Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey, and Washington) have engaged in cross-system collaboration to better serve babies. Read Innovation in Cross-System Collaboration to Better Support Babies.
CLASP developed profiles of two states (Michigan and New Mexico) explaining the current infant-toddler policy landscape, including threats and opportunities at the state level and proposed policy actions to improve well-being.
Read briefs about each of the 13 policies core to advancing infant-toddler well-being.
...HEALTHY BODIES, HEALTHY MINDS, AND HEALTHY PARENTS.
Good physical and mental health is one of the most important factors for babies’ and their parents’ overall well-being. Infants and toddlers need to be in good health to learn and grow properly. Parents need to be healthy, too, in order to provide for their families and spend quality time with their children.
…ECONOMICALLY STABLE FAMILIES.
Economic instability is often at the core of other challenges faced by young children and their families. Infants’ and toddlers’ parents need good jobs in responsive workplaces and access to assistance when they are unable to make ends meet.
Infants and toddlers need strong parents who are adequately supported and have effective parenting skills. All parents want to give their children the best start in life, but some need extra support and resources to fully nurture their children’s development.
…HIGH-QUALITY CHILD CARE AND EARLY EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES.
Families with infants and toddlers need high-quality, affordable early care and education programs that support child development, promote parents’ engagement in children’s learning, and allow parents to work or go to school.