The human brain grows to 85% of its adult size between conception and age 3.
This simple biological fact has direct implications for the support of human development during the earliest years of life. Compared to other industrialized nations, the U.S. does little to proactively nurture brain development between conception and age 3. A focus on ensuring healthy development during this timeframe will pay dividends throughout life. Delayed, damaged, or insufficient development is very difficult and expensive to correct later in life. If we ignore the earliest years, we do so to the detriment of our children, families, communities, and nation.
For Our Babies is a national movement promoting healthy development in U.S. children from conception to age 3. We advocate for the types of environments, experiences, and relationships that infants and toddlers need in order to thrive. JOIN US for our babies GET INVOLVED
To capitalize on the opportunity that rapid human brain development provides, and to realize the benefits that healthy children provide to all of us, For Our Babies advocates for the following:
Prenatal health care coverage for all families, regardless of income, including home-based support and counseling during pregnancy.
|WHY IT MATTERS||Prenatal healthcare reduces future healthcare costs and identifies problems when they are more easily addressed.|
|AS IT STANDS||In the US, over 41 million Americans are uninsured (13% of women) and many of those who are insured are underinsured often resulting in inadequate prenatal care.|
Affordable intervention services for at-risk pregnancies.
|WHY IT MATTERS||For every dollar spent employers can expect a savings of $3.33 for postnatal care and $4.63 in long-term morbidity costs.|
|AS IT STANDS||The US ranks 23rd in infant mortality rates, largely due to inadequate and limited access to affordable prenatal intervention services.|
Paid Leave & Well Baby Care
Paid leave for parents for the first nine months of their child’s life.
|Why It Matters||Early strong attachments to parents help with healthy brain development during first three years of a child’s life. Employee turnover is also estimated to cost between 70 and 150% of the employee’s wages- paid family leave can therefore save firms considerable amounts of money.|
|As It Stands||New parents in the US may access leave through the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993. FMLA leave consists of 12 weeks of unpaid leave that can taken continuously or intermittently and on a full-time basis or reduced schedule leave, depending on employer’s approval.|
Affordable visits to the homes of all newborns for the first two years that include guidance by professionals trained in parenting and healthy development, along with counseling on early emotional, social, intellectual, linguistic, and perceptual/motor development.
|Why It Matters||Quality voluntary home visiting programs help ensure that more children stay out of social welfare, mental health and juvenile justice systems saving money. Lactation consultation can help with breast feeding success which improves short- and long-term health of women and their infants, and lowers total healthcare costs.|
|As It Stands||Homevisiting programs in the US are not consistent or well coordinated. Of the 119 programs identified in the US by a Pew Foundation study, 34 states had more than one program administered across their health and education and human service agencies and four states did not administer any home visiting programs at all.|
Screening & Follow-Up Services
Affordable developmental screenings to identify physical and behavioral needs, with referral to affordable help when needed.
|Why It Matters||Early identification of special needs means the possibility of early intervention. Because of significant brain development that occurs in the first three years of life, the earlier the intervention the better with significant cost savings.|
|As It Stands||In the US, nine million children are without healthcare coverage and many more are under-insured. Only 38 percent of US children under the age of 3 have access to health insurance.|
Affordable services for children with identified special needs.
|Why It Matters||Early intervention services have a moderate and positive effect on the developmental progress of many disabled children, especially those younger than 3 years of age.|
|As It Stands||Many families struggle to find affordable, high-quality, consistent, developmentally appropriate child care for their children that addresses their child’s unique and special needs. Even when services are available, families may not be equipped to navigate them or effectively advocate for their children.|
Free intervention services for families in crisis.
|Why It Matters||When families are in crisis they can not wait for services. Brain research confirms constant stress alters the formation of neural pathways, so that coping and thinking mechanisms don’t develop as they should. This has grave impact on a child’s ability to cope later in life.|
|As It Stands||Within the broad framework of free intervention services, there is wide variation across the nation in the kind of interventions, duration of services, size of caseloads, and components of service that characterize these programs.|
Quality Infant/Toddler Care
Child care regulations that ensure that care is provided in safe, engaging, and intimate settings.
|Why It Matters||Infants and toddlers are not able to defend their right to safe and engaging child care. Therefore adults must protect them from potentially dangerous and harmful experiences. All of society benefits when regulations are in place to ensure that care is provide in safe, engaging and intimate settings.|
|As It Stands||In the US, research shows that approximately 7 million infants and toddlers are in childcare, 8% of the care is considered good quality, 40% poor quality, and 12% is considered damaging to children’s development and educational success. 30-40% of children enter kindergarten unprepared to benefit from the educational program.|
Training, compensation, and professional stature for infant and toddler teachers at the same level as K-12 teachers.
|Why It Matters||Instability erodes the quality of care experienced by children. Relationships with caregivers that can grow and strengthen over time are essential to healthy social and cognitive development. The only way to attract and retain a well-qualified professional workforce is to pay and train people accordingly.|
|As It Stands||In the US, the annual turnover rate for infant toddler caregivers is an alarming 30% annually and 75% every four years. In the US, infant care teachers are among the poorest paid earning approximately $9/hr, less than the average dog walker.|
Childcare subsidies for all families.
|Why It Matters||Investing in early childhood education provides the answer to global competitiveness, better health and education outcomes and less crime and poverty.|
|As It Stands||Parents in the US pay 80% of child care costs whereas Europeans pay 30%. According to national report (NACCRA 2008), the average price of full-time center-based care for an infant was $14,591 a year.|