Building Strong Foundations

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.

CLASP and ZERO TO THREE’s Building Strong Foundations: Advancing Comprehensive Policies for Infants, Toddlers, and Families project seeks to promote federal and state policies that address the wellbeing 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.

For more information about a particular policy area, use the image map below.

For additional information, please contact Rebecca Ullrich.

Strong Parents

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.

  • Parent Support Services. and Resources Families of infants and toddlers should have access to a continuum of parent support services and resources to support their child’s development.
  • Child Welfare System. Infants and toddlers in the child welfare system should receive developmentally appropriate supports responsive to the needs of the child and family.

High-Quality Early Education

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.

  • Child Care Assistance. Low-income families with infants and toddlers should get child care assistance to afford safe, stable, high-quality child care that promotes children’s development and parents’ education, training, and work.
  • Early Head Start. Vulnerable infants, toddlers, pregnant women, and families should have access to comprehensive early childhood services through Early Head Start.
  • Early Intervention. Infants and toddlers with developmental delays or disabilities should be identified and receive early intervention services in a timely manner.

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.

  • Education and Training Programs. Low-income parents of infants and toddlers should have access to affordable education and training to improve their employment opportunities.
  • Cash Assistance and Tax Credits Families. in poverty with infants and toddlers should get cash assistance and refundable tax credits to supplement their earnings.
  • Paid Leave. Parents with infants and toddlers should have paid sick leave from work when they are ill, when their child or a family member is ill, or to obtain preventive care for themselves or their families. Parents should have paid family and medical leave when a child is born, adopted, or newly fostered.
  • Housing Assistance. Low-income families with infants and toddlers should have affordable, safe, and stable housing.

Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, Healthy Parents

Good physical and mental health is one of the most important factors for babies’ and their parents’ overall wellbeing. 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.

  • Health Insurance. Low-income infants, toddlers, parents, and pregnant women should have quality, affordable, publicly financed health insurance.
  • Health Care Services. Infants, toddlers, parents, and pregnant women should receive appropriate health screenings, preventive primary care, and medically necessary treatment services.
  • Mental Health Services. Infants, toddlers, and parents should receive appropriate screening, diagnosis, and treatment services to meet their mental health needs.
  • Nutrition Assistance. Low-income families with infants and toddlers and pregnant women should have access to nutrition support programs.