Man and pregnant women with toddler laying on her stomach

Make the Case

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A child’s brain develops faster from birth-to-age-three than at any later period in life, building the foundation for all future learning, behavior, and health.

Parents play the lead role in their child’s healthy development, but all parents are stretched in the earliest months and years of their child’s life.

Whether providing direct support or working through a community-based network of organizations and programs, there is no doubt that government has a role to play in helping parents access needed services, especially at this critical and stressful time from birth-to-three.

When we support them in their earliest years, infants grow into healthy kids who are confident, empathetic, and ready for school and life—and our communities, workforce, and economy become stronger and more productive. That's why it is so important to start early and advance programs and policies that promote healthy development.

Birth-to-Age-Three Is Critical for Brain Development

A child’s experiences in the first three years are the bricks and mortar of brain development, with more than one million new neural connections forming in an infant's brain every second. Responsive relationships and positive experiences early in life build a sturdy brain architecture that becomes the foundation for core social-emotional skills, early executive functioning and self-regulatory skills, and literacy skills.

Research from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University shows the importance of brain development for infants and toddlers. Supportive relationships and positive learning experiences begin at home and can also be provided through a range of effective programs and policies. Young children require stable, caring, interactive relationships with adults to achieve healthy brain development by age three.

Early Investment Works

It’s not just infants, toddlers, and their families who benefit when we start early—it’s the entire community. When we invest in the first three years of a child’s life, the returns for communities are the highest, and we can reduce the need for more expensive interventions later.

Research from Professor James Heckman at the University of Chicago found that investments in high-quality programs that support young children starting at birth deliver a 13 percent annual return—significantly higher than the 7-10 percent return delivered by preschool alone.

Can't Find What You Need?

Looking for additional resources to make the case for programs and policies that support infants and toddlers? Be sure to check out the Resources for Action page. If you still can't find what you need, contact us and we'll help you find the right materials for your state or community.