Rallying Around the Importance of Investing in Infants and Toddlers

Jun 21, 2013

By Stephanie Schmit

The earliest years of life are a period of incredible growth. Infants need the right conditions and experiences -- including consistent relationships with caring adults and adequate health and developmental supports -- to properly shape their brains and build a healthy foundation for life. These experiences during the infant and toddler years shape the architecture of the brain-including cognitive, linguistic, social, and emotional capacities-at a phenomenal rate and lay the foundation for future growth and learning.

Unfortunately, quality infant-toddler child care is in short supply and unaffordable for many families all across the country. The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is the primary source of federal funding for child care subsidies to low-income working families and for improving child care quality. Thirty percent of children receiving child care subsidies funded by CCDBG are infants and toddlers. Early Head Start provides care and comprehensive services to another 166,000 infants, toddlers and their families nationally.  However, CCDBG serves only 1 in 6 eligible children and, currently, Early Head Start serves less than 4 percent of eligible infants and toddlers.

To call attention to the significant unmet needs of young children in low-income families, national organizations and concerned individuals around the country are rallying around infants and toddlers to support the expansion of high-quality learning experiences, including child care, Early Head Start, early intervention, and home visiting. You can add your voice now by signing this petition. Then join ZERO TO THREE, CLASP, and other national partners in the virtual Rally4Babies, an online rally featuring experts including Secretaries Kathleen Sebelius and Arne Duncan on July 8th.  Visit www.rally4babies.org for more details.

We know that when infants and toddlers get a strong start, our nation prospers. But we are missing a key opportunity when we fail to invest in quality care and education in the earliest years. Increased investments at all levels- federal, state and local- are imperative to give public agencies, child care providers, and programs the resources they need to make improvements in key policies that support the healthy development and future success of our youngest children.

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