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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 takes a stand for the following:

Prenatal Care

Prenatal health care coverage for all families, regardless of income, including home-based support and counseling during pregnancy.

WHY IT MATTERS One of the best ways to promote a healthy birth is to have a healthy pregnancy. Prenatal healthcare reduces future healthcare costs and identifies problems when they are more easily addressed.
AS IT STANDS Many infants are at risk before they are even born. In 2018, 28 million Americans were uninsured (11% 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 Access to affordable quality prenatal care could help improve outcomes for babies and their mothers, reducing preterm births, pregnancy-related complications and infant mortality rates. 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 has a relatively high infant mortality rate compared to other developed nations. In 2014, more that 23,000 (or approximately 6 for every 1,000 live births) infants died, largely due to inadequate and limited access to affordable prenatal intervention services.

Well Baby Care

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 Multiple studies in different communities show that evidenced-based home visiting programs can improve a variety of social and educational outcomes for children and families. Children involved in home visiting are better prepared for school, experience fewer emergency room visits and less abuse and neglect.
As It Stands Home visiting programs operate in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories, each with their own goals. States decide on how they want to target their home visiting funds which usually are a mix of federal, state, and private funds. Some states only focus on healthy births, some only serve first-time parents or families at risk of child abuse or neglect and still others offer home visiting to all parents of newborns. As of September 2017, 20 home visiting models met the federal criteria to be considered evidence-based but few were available to homes of all newborns.

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 2018, 4.3 million US children were without healthcare coverage and many more are under-insured meaning many children are without regular health care providers who would screen during regular well-baby visits and make referrals as needed. When children with developmental disabilities or other delays are not identified until they are in the public school systems, significant delays might have occurred and opportunities for treatment might have been missed.

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 Of the 12 million infants and toddlers in the United States, more than half spend some or all of their day being cared for by someone other than their parents. Studies show fewer than 10% of child care arrangements provide high-quality care.

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 $10/hr, less than the average dog walker.

Childcare subsidies for all families.

Why It Matters Quality infant toddler care remains unaffordable for most American families. When children can’t access high quality care, they are less likely to be ready for kindergarten. From an economic standpoint, without quality care, families may not be able to work. Businesses see lost profits and productivity because of employee turnover and absenteeism. Furthermore, financial instability of families can put a strain on government assistance programs. Investing in early childhood education provides the answer to global competitiveness, better health and education outcomes and less crime and poverty.
As It Stands In no state does the cost of center-based infant or toddler child care meet the federal definition of affordable—no more than 7 percent of annual household income. In 12 states, the cost of child care for just one infant exceeds 20 percent of the state median income. Nationally, the price of center-based child care for infants can cost single-parent families an average of 36% of household income.