BUILD Initiative Blog | What We're Reading - October 16
Strong Foundations For Our Youngest Children

BUILDing Strong Foundations

BUILD Initiative Blog



Systems Building

BUILD Initiative works with states to place special emphasis on equity, quality and the connections between systems. To achieve these ends, BUILD helps state leaders coordinate policies, programs and services; create infrastructure; improve integration and achieve scale in four areas: early learning, family support and parenting programs, services for children with special needs, and children’s health, mental health and nutrition. No one system can support the whole child and his or her family. Only together can the many systems’ leaders reshape the interdependent but very different factors that shape child well-being. And, only collective leadership that includes family and community voice and that represents the racial and ethnic diversity of the young child population can create an early childhood system that meets the needs of its intended beneficiaries to ensure that all children, from birth to age five, are safe, healthy, eager to learn, and ready to succeed in school and in life.

  • Five Elements of Collective Leadership: Collective leadership is a system of leadership based on shared decision-making and transparency—involving everyone affected by change in the process. Five Elements of Collective Leadership for Early Childhood Professionals shows how this model can be implemented specifically in the field of early childhood education. Cassandra O’Neill and Monica Brinkerhoff help teachers, providers, administrators, and system change leaders think differently about opportunities available to lead.
  • Brookings: How public libraries help build healthy communities  A reason public libraries are seen as such important third-place institutions is that they and their librarians have gradually taken on other functions well beyond lending out books. In many communities, librarians are also ad hoc social workers and navigators. They help local people figure out the complexities of life, from navigating the health system to helping those with housing needs. This “go-to” role has influenced library programming and events, with libraries providing advice and connections to health, housing, literacy, and other areas.

Family Support

Parents are their children’s first and most important teachers. Ensuring that they have sufficient support to provide nurturing homes and meet basic needs is essential to children’s development. Family support includes home visiting, parent education, family literacy, income and workforce support, family presentation services, and extended paid family leave. BUILD supports states in their efforts to strengthen family support and make it an integral part of the overall early childhood system.

  • ZERO TO THREE and CLASP: ZTT and CLASP have released four papers making the case for national investment in economically stable families:

  1. Paid Sick Leave and Paid Family and Medical Leave: Parents with infants and toddlers should have paid sick leave from work, and paid family and medical leave when a child is born, adopted, or newly fostered. Read more.
  2. Cash Assistance and Tax Credits: Cash assistance and refundable tax credits that supplement earnings can significantly improve the stability of low-income families with infants and toddlers. Read more.
  3. Education and Training: Low-income parents of infants and toddlers need access to affordable education and training to improve their employment opportunities. Read more.
  4. Housing: Housing assistance programs reduce the chances that low-income families with infants and toddlers experience housing crises and conditions that can undermine early development. Read more.


  • Washington Post: Almost half of D.C. children have suffered a traumatic experience, according to federal survey  About 1 in 5 — 22 percent — of children nationwide have had two or more adverse experiences, compared with 15 percent in Maryland, 19 percent in Virginia and 22 percent in the District. Across the country, the prevalence of adversity is higher for children who are African American or Hispanic. Roughly 40 percent of white children have had at least one adverse experience, compared with 51 percent of Hispanic children and nearly 64 percent of black children.
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Traumatic Experiences Widespread Among U.S. Youth, New Data Show  “ACEs and other traumatic events don’t just affect an individual child—families, neighborhoods and communities all bear the brunt of these difficult circumstances, which add up over time,” said Christina Bethell, PhD, director of CAHMI. “If a child’s stress and unhealed trauma leads to acting out in class, that disruption is felt by the other children in the room as well as the teacher. These impacts require the healing of trauma at a family, community, and societal level. Practitioners and policymakers should respond to these new data by advancing strategies that can both prevent ACEs in the first place and support families and communities as they learn and heal.”
  • Perspectives in Infant Mental Health: Treating Infants and Young Children Impacted by Trauma: Interventions that Promote Healthy Development   It is also important to recognize that trauma exposure in the earliest years can not only lead to individual and family problems, but also can result in vast societal costs needed to help and support development.  This book also provided the opportunity to help readers recognize that the first few years of life is a particularly sensitive time for brain development as well as cognitive, social and emotional growth and that adversity because of, or as a result of, trauma experienced in the first few years of life may be particularly detrimental developmentally.

Impact of Immigration on Young Children

Large numbers of immigrant children and their families are experiencing serious problems - inadequate education, poor physical and mental health, and poverty. Although participation in early childhood education programs can offset some of these problems, immigrant children attend such programs at lower rates than  children of U.S.-born citizens. These factors have contributed to significant achievement disparities between immigrant children and non-immigrant children.


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.

  • National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families: How Well Are Early Care and Education Providers Who Serve Hispanic Children Doing on Access and Availability?  This brief provides a national portrait of providers serving a large proportion of Hispanic children, focusing on characteristics that shape access to and availability of ECE programs. We find that roughly one in five providers serve a high proportion of Hispanic children (also referred to as high-Hispanic-serving), in which 25 percent or more of the children enrolled are Hispanic. Collectively, our findings suggest many ways in which providers—and home-based providers in particular—are likely responding to the needs of Hispanic families, as well as possible areas of unmet need.

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

  • Harvard Graduate School of Education: Where Preschoolers Learn  A new study illuminates the landscape of early ed, finding that 3-year-olds spend less time in formal care than 4-year-olds.
  • The Council of State Governments: Early Learning is a Smart Investment  High-quality early learning programs have been shown to boost educational outcomes for children, reduce rates of incarceration and lower health-care costs, according to research from economist James Heckman, winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.
  • Statesman Journal: Tell Congress communities benefit most from family programs  Conversely, Congress can deprive children of basic health care and pay big later in the form of crime and incarceration as some of these youths, without intervention, will wind up in the system.
  • Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center: Associations Between Continuity of Care in Infant-Toddler Classrooms and Child Outcomes Ensuring that young children, especially infants and toddlers, experience consistency in child care providers over time is a practice endorsed by multiple professional organizations. This practice, commonly referred to as continuity of care (CoC), is recommended for center-based group settings to provide infants and toddlers with the sensitive, responsive care needed to promote early development. Despite widespread endorsement, there has been limited empirical examination of CoC. This study examines the extent to which CoC experienced in infant-toddler center-based care is associated with social-emotional and language development.
  • Council of State Governments: Early Learning is a Smart Investment  TQRIS were initially built on child care licensing standards to improve quality and raise the floor. Today, the states leading the way in terms of quality improvement are promoting school readiness, promoting continuous quality improvement and working across child care, Head Start and pre-Kindergarten.

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