America’s future rests on the shoulders of today’s youngest children. Their early experiences will shape the architecture of their brains in enduring ways and build the foundation – whether strong or weak – for their own development and that of our nation.
This report is written by two leading national early childhood organizations, ZERO TO THREE and Pre-K Now, which are perceived by some as competing for scarce attention and resources and as advancing incompatible agendas. It is our shared belief, however, that we must transcend the fragmentation and conflict that sometimes divide the early childhood community.
Ultimately, the success of our respective efforts depends upon the quality and scope of the opportunities our nation provides for its youngest citizens. To that end, we are joining together in the common recognition that all children need access to coordinated, affordable, high-quality early care and education, health and mental health, and family support services. We believe that developing cohesive systems of effective programs and policies requires a new level of national commitment to children in their earliest years.
Such work is not glamorous, but it is necessary. This report looks at strategies for effectively building the systems and providing the highquality programs infants, toddlers, and young children need to thrive and succeed. It builds on the work of other initiatives, early childhood professionals, and institutions. Yet, by distilling the wisdom and experience of some of our country’s most innovative early childhood leaders, this report intends to offer a fresh point of view and to encourage more states to commit to this difficult but critical work. Through proven, real-world strategies, elements of a prenatal-tofive system can be tackled incrementally without sacrificing a commitment to the broader vision.
ZERO TO THREE