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New Resource Provides Roadmap for State Specific ECE Policy

Resource October 13, 2021

On October 7, thousands of policymakers, scholars, and practitioners across the nation joined the National Prenatal-to-3 Research to Policy Summit. At the summit, the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center unveiled the 2021 Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap, which provides guidance to state leaders on the most effective investments states can make to ensure all children have the opportunity to thrive from the start. 

The period from prenatal development through the age of three is critical in terms of brain and social development, which set the foundation for future learning, behavior, and health. It is critical to ensure that all children are born healthy and raised in a safe, nurturing environment. Unfortunately, not all children have the opportunities they deserve, and systemic differences exist based on children’s race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and location. However, state policy choices can support this critical period of growth by creating comprehensive prenatal-to-three systems of care that empower parents and give children the best start. 

With a focus on rigorous reviews of scientific evidence, the 2021 Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap outlines five policies and six strategies state leaders can implement to create more equitable outcomes for infants, toddlers, and their caregivers. 

1. Expanded Income Eligibility for Health Insurance
2. Reduced Administrative Burden for SNAP
3. Paid Family Leave
4. State Minimum Wage
5. State Earned Income Tax Credit
1. Comprehensive Screening and Connection Programs
2. Child Care Subsidies
3. Group Prenatal Care
4. Evidence-Based Home Visiting Programs
5. Early Head Start
6. Early Intervention Services

The 2021 roadmap focuses on the progress states have made over the past year in adopting and fully implementing each policy and strategy. A state is considered to have fully implemented a policy if eligible families are able to receive at a benefit level deemed sufficient to impact prenatal-to-three outcomes. Only four states have adopted and fully implemented all five proposed policies (California, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and New Jersey). Eight states have fully implemented four out of the five policies; however, generosity and reach vary considerably. Seven states have not fully implemented any of the effective policies (Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming).

Many states invested in evidence-based strategies through legislative or administrative action this year. Some examples include:

  • Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington passed bills to eliminate or reduce copayments to receive child care subsidies.
  • Washington and New Mexico increased the rate of child care provider payments, and New Mexico expanded income eligibility for child care subsidies.
  • Maine, Oregon, and Washington expanded access to Early Head Start.
  • Delaware, Illinois, and Colorado expanded Early Intervention (EI) services for infants and toddlers in need.
  • Connecticut, Delaware, and Illinois increased accountability and oversight of their home visiting programs.

Click here to find the policy profile of your state and to learn more about progress made this year and how the state can better support the healthy development of infants and toddlers. The 2021 Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap is in its second year (the 2020 Roadmap can be found here). The Prenatal-to-3 Impact Center will continue to update this Roadmap annually to measure states’ progress and improvements in the wellbeing of infants, toddlers, and their parents. 

Find the full list of speakers and panelists here.

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