BUILDing Strong Foundations

What We're Reading - January 5

1/5/2018 12:00:00 AM
Posted by: Build Initiative

Early Learning

Children must reach critical health and well-being benchmarks in order to thrive, be ready for kindergarten, and read at grade level by third grade. BUILD knows that families and communities are the primary source of this foundational support for children. We help state leaders create safe, healthy, nurturing early learning experiences for all children – to better support families and communities. This “whole-systems” approach includes an emphasis on: primary and preventive health care, early intervention, and quality early care and education. That is why  BUILD Initiative assists states in focusing on standards and assessment, including kindergarten entry assessmentearly care and education, with a focus on infant/toddler and pre-K services, programs and policies; and family, friend and neighbor care

Despite these challenges, infant-toddler advocates also have cause for celebration. Thanks to your hard work and commitment, families across the country should be buoyed by some good news for babies as they head into the New Year! Together, we celebrate the following 2017 Policy and Advocacy Achievements for Babies.

The earliest years of life are a period of incredible growth and opportunity to shape strong and positive development from the start. Good health, secure and stable families, and positive early learning environments are necessary to foster children’s physical, intellectual, and social-emotional development during this significant period.

Women’s work. Child care. For much of our nation’s history, the two have been nearly synonymous. Yet the stories diverge along racial lines. Until at least the latter half of the 20th century, few types of work beyond unpaid care for their own children at home were viewed as socially acceptable for white women. Women of color, however, were employed—or enslaved—in domestic work, including child care for other families’ children, for centuries.

Health

From birth to age five, children require significant preventive and developmental health services. For healthy development, children need access to comprehensive, preventive primary health care. Children also require early identification and response to health-threatening conditions. Just as important is attention to social, emotional, behavioral, and physical development, and practices that fuel healthy development. A strong health system for young children must address children’s biological, medical and physical concerns. It must also serve as a first responder to the many social factors and determinants contributing to a child’s healthy development. This includes linking young children and their families to the rest of the early childhood system. BUILD has delved more deeply into four areas of early childhood healthy development which serve as drivers for strengthening the health system’s response to young children: primary health care/medical home; social determinants of health, health equity, and community health; early childhood health and mental health development; and healthy lifestyles, nutrition, and exercise.

Using data from the American Community Survey (ACS), this brief finds that relatively few children ages 3 and younger were uninsured in 2015 nationally and in most states, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was associated with increased coverage among both young children and their parents. However, 13.2 percent of the parents of young children were uninsured, higher than among parents of older children. Furthermore, nearly half of children ages 3 and younger – and over a fifth of their parents – were covered by Medicaid/CHIP in 2015; therefore, Medicaid/CHIP policy changes would have outsize effects on these families.

Racial Equity

At the time they enter kindergarten, many young children face gaps that exist - by income, race/ethnicity, language, and culture - in child outcomes and opportunities, as well as in system capacity and response. Closing these gaps is fundamental to the success of each child and of the United States as a nation. BUILD supports state leaders through tailored technical assistance, capacity building, and peer learning opportunities to support them in doing so. These resources can help build and expand your state's focus on equity in systems.

Child care and early education policies are shaped by a history of systemic and structural racism. This has created major racial disparities in children’s access to quality child care that meets their cultural and linguistic needs and enables their parents to work. Early care and education workers are overwhelmingly in low-quality jobs with inadequate compensation. And workers of color are often relegated to the lowest-paid positions.



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