Select Metrics for Success

Well-chosen indicators and a strong data infrastructure are critical components of a prenatal-to-three initiative. Within each focus area, indicators chart progress toward school readiness and well-being for infants and toddlers.

Explore the interactive Outcomes Framework below and find the right metrics to assess infants and toddlers in your state or community. Always disaggregate indicators by population characteristics, including race and ethnicity, immigration status, language, and household income levels, to examine if there are disparities in outcomes.

Healthy Beginnings

Supported Families

High-Quality Child Care & Learning

Healthy Beginnings

A healthy beginning starts before birth with a healthy mother. To improve chances for a strong start in life, all expectant mothers need access to comprehensive prenatal and postnatal care, and access to preventative and comprehensive health care for their infants. Preventative and comprehensive health care includes regular well-child visits, screenings, and referrals to necessary services to ensure infants are born healthy and continue to thrive.

Supported Families

The most effective way to support a young child is through their family. For healthy development, infants and toddlers need high-quality health care, stimulating learning opportunities, and nurturing, responsive relationships. A system of supports for families, such as home visiting and universal family connection programs, should be in place to reach every parent and child at or before birth with needed information, assessments, and referrals that offer each child a strong start.

High-Quality Child Care & Learning

All infants and toddlers should experience nurturing and responsive care in safe and stable settings. High-quality child care—whether it takes place in a child care center, or with home-based providers—should provide real developmental experiences that are interactive and stimulate engagement, building a solid foundation during the earliest years of life. Caregivers must have a high level of preparation, training, and skills, a positive attitude, and a strong understanding of child development.

Prenatal-to-Three Systems

The foundation for successful policy and programmatic outcomes starts with a strong and coordinated prenatal-to-three system that can address the needs of at-risk infants, toddlers, and families.

Data Systems

Integrated data systems (IDS) link and combine data from different state and local agencies and programs to connect services that support young children and their families, such as child care and early education, home visiting, and health care services. IDS help deliver services to the right children and families at the right times through case management, and they are an invaluable tool for program and policy monitoring and evaluation. Cross-sector data can help identify strengths and weaknesses in system design and performance and track outcomes over time.

When building an IDS, ensure the data sharing agreements always adequately address privacy issues, are in compliance with laws and regulations, and respect the wishes of parents.

Track Your Progress

    Planning

    • Scan existing data sources

    • Determine the potential and process for linking data sources

    • Develop data governance team

    In Process

    • Develop plans for cross-sector data system integration
    • Use initial data to inform decision-making

    Advanced Implementation

    • Invest in an IDS that allows for examination of cross-sector service use and outcomes over time

    Coordinated Planning and Financing

    Understanding the resources necessary to ensure equitable access to high-quality services for infants, toddlers, and their families should be at the core of community and state-level planning efforts. Evaluate your existing funding streams and funding shortfalls. Then, work to leverage existing funds and identify new funding sources to support and expand your policy or program.

    Track Your Progress:

      Planning

      • Set a vision and build a leadership team

      • Conduct a community needs and funding assessment

      • Identify funding gaps and opportunities

      In Process

      • Establish cross-system metrics
      • Document funding streams and funding shortfalls
      • Invest in monitoring and addressing disparities

      Advanced Implementation

      • Leverage existing funding streams and secure new funding sources

      Political Will and Engagement

      Building and sustaining political will is a critical aspect of any policy or community agenda. Support from a broad group of stakeholders brings a diverse set of experiences, perspectives, and voices that help promote buy-in and make a compelling case for change. Contributions of experts and champions from all sectors can fortify the political and public will to take action.

      Track Your Progress:

        Planning

        • Engage key prenatal-to-three stakeholders, champions, and funders

        In Process

        • Engage in prenatal-to-three advocacy, marketing, and communications efforts

        Advanced Implementation

        • Commit resources to prenatal-to-three priorities

        • Develop a plan for sustained investment among stakeholders

        Continuous Quality Improvement

        Continuous quality improvement activities help stakeholders understand if policies and programs are successfully meeting goals, if they are high-quality and efficient, and how they can be improved to better meet the desired outcomes for young children and their families. Conduct an analysis to track your policy or program's progress, identify strengths and challenges, and assess equity. Then, develop a continuous quality improvement plan to sustain successes and address challenges.

        Track Your Progress:

          Planning

          • Engage stakeholders to identify policy and program strengths and challenges, including issues of equity

          In Process

          • Use data to examine challenges and track progress toward improvement

          Advanced Implementation

          • Develop a continuous quality improvement plan to sustain improvements

          Coordinated Intake and Referral of Family Services

          An early childhood coordinated intake and referral system (CI&R) serves as a single entry point for care coordination, education, and management of supportive services like home visiting programs. CI&R systems minimize redundancy in services, ensure effective deployment of resources, ensure families receive services that best match their needs and preferences, and make it easier to track the quality of programs.

          Track Your Progress:

            Planning

            • Develop a collaborative network of early childhood services

            • Identify models for coordinated intake

            In Process

            • Develop policies, procedures, and technology solutions for data entry and sharing

            Advanced Implementation

            • Launch a coordinated intake and referral system

            Workforce Development

            Caregivers and educators need training, professional development, and adequate financial support to provide the best developmental outcomes for infants and toddlers. Yet, many existing workforce development systems are ineffective, inefficient, and inequitable. In your state or community, work to reduce pay inequalities provide high-quality training and professional development opportunities to support a high-quality early childhood workforce.

            Track Your Progress:

              Planning

              • Engage stakeholders to identify prenatal-to-three workforce needs, strengths, and challenges

              In Process

              • Assess strengths and gaps in current workforce policies and practices, including professional standards, career pathways, articulation, financing, and data availability
              • Develop specific goals to improve workforce development

              Advanced Implementation

              • Implement targeted strategies to address workforce development goals and needs