Infants and Toddlers Ages Zero to Three
The Everychild Foundation joined the Los Angeles Partnership for Early Childhood Investment (or its precursor entity) in 2006 and quickly learned how important investment in the early years is to the life outcomes of children, especially those at risk due to poverty, neglect, abuse, disease or cognitive condition. Â Soon after its formation, the Public Policy Committee (PPC) adopted the arena policy directed at children ages zero to three as one of its first focus areas. Â Since that time the PPC has maintained a strong commitment to alleviating systemic challenges to providing needed support to local infants and toddlers by developing relationships with local funders and educating others about the critical needs of our youngest population.
Why the Early Years Are Critical
The early years are critical for a childâ€™s learning, skill acquisition and physical and emotional health. Â Neuroscience demonstrates that disrupted or unhealthy early relationships negatively impact brain development, while other research has shown that a childâ€™s lifelong emotional resiliency and ability to form relationships based on appropriate emotional attachments are harmed by significant life stressors to infants and toddlers. Â Research shows that emotional development including the ability to manage oneâ€™s own behavior, express emotions appropriately and establish and maintain healthy relationships is uniquely dependent on the experiences of early childhood.
LAâ€™s Zero to Three Population
More than 575,000 children under the age of three live in Los Angeles County. Â According to researchers, adverse early environments are strong predictors of failure in school and in adulthood, and the return on investments in human capital is highest for the early years. Â Yet a significant number of Los Angeles children aged zero to three live at or below 185% of the federal poverty line. Â Infants and toddlers suffer alarming rates of abuse and neglect: Â these young children are more likely to be removed from their homes and placed in the Los Angeles foster care system than other age groups and are more likely to be spending months in foster care in multiple placements. Â Slum housing risks as well as other early exposure to toxic environmental substances (such as alcohol, drugs, lead, pesticides and other toxins) disrupts brain development and can result in disabling conditions with some lasting throughout a childâ€™s life. Â Local infants and toddlers who have physical, social or cognitive disabilities too frequently do not receive early identification and intervention programming needed to dramatically improve their life outcomes.
Committee Work in This Area
1. Â LA Partnership for Early Childhood Investment: Â In 2006, Everychild joined the precursor organization to the LA Partnership for Early Childhood Investment. The mission of the partnership is to increase investment and promote positive change in life outcomes for local children ages zero to five. The partnership has three focus areas: promote investment in family strengthening models, pursue and support local strategies that leverage public financial support of local children, and seek to engage the business community in the support of early childhood issues.
4. Â Hosted Workshops: Â The Public Policy Committee hosted advocacy training on how to â€śBe a Voice for Babiesâ€ť and other infants and toddlers policy issues such as briefings on adoption, early identification and intervention for children with disabilities, and the unique needs of young children who are placed in the foster care system. Â The PPC also assisted in the organization of an Everychild Member Salon, which featured speakers from the national organization Zero to Three.
Ongoing and Future Initiatives
1. Â Continue to ensure that childrenâ€™s policy discussion includes the unique needs of infants and toddlers.
2. Â Work to establish a countywide mechanism to provide better support to infants and toddlers in foster care.
3. Â Monitor state and local legislation and educate members about bills that improve early childcare, nutrition and health.
4. Â Raise member and community awareness about the unique and critical Â needs of infants and toddlers.
Content created October 2011.