Issues and Challenges

  • Low-income parents find it difficult to access affordable, high-quality care and education for their infants and toddlers while they work, attend school, or seek employment.
  • Only half of Medicaid-eligible children receive regular developmental screening during their early years to be sure milestones are met, and many children who would benefit from early intervention services do not receive them.
  • The need for parenting supports, including home visiting programs, is far greater than current program capacity.  
  • Nutrition programs to help the 1 in 5 children experiencing food insecurity are underutilized.

Policy Agenda

  • Increase the availability of subsidized high-quality infant/toddler child care that meets the linguistic and cultural needs of the family.
  • Advocate for universal developmental screening and services to support children’s healthy development.
  • Promote a continuum of accessible parenting support services, including Early Head Start and other evidence-based home visiting programs.
  • Ensure children and parents have access to comprehensive medical care, including behavioral health care and infant mental health support.
  • Expand the federal Child Tax Credit to benefit very young poor children.
  • Develop state and local community systems to coordinate early education and care, engage families, and reduce toxic stress in infants and toddlers.