Think Babies Policy Solutions for 2021

ZERO TO THREE, Think Babies partners, and thousands of advocates across the country are sending a clear message to CongressBabies build America 

To stay strong, America needs to invest. In infrastructure. In the economy. In the health and safety of our communities. But there’s one investment we’re neglecting that pays dividends in all those areas and more: babies. 

Yet opportunities to grow and flourish are not shared equally by all infants, toddlers, and families, reflecting past and present systemic racism and barriers to critical resources. If our nation is to thrive, we must ensure that every baby has what they need to reach their full potential.

When babies and toddlers have good health, strong families, and positive early learning experiences, it creates a stronger society for all of us. Their growth is America’s growth. It’s time to Think Babies because babies build America.  

Child Care

Significantly invest in a comprehensive child care system, such as that proposed in the Child Care for Working Families Act, that ensures: 

  • Quality — All children receive high-quality child care.  
  • Access — Families can access the high-quality child care setting that best meets their needs.  
  • Affordability — Families get the financial support they need to afford high-quality child care. 
  • Workforce — Early childhood professionals in all settings can receive the support, resources, and compensation they need to provide high-quality care and support their own families.  

Paid Leave

Enact permanent national paid family and medical leave, such as that proposed in the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, that ensures 

  • Accessibility for all working people.  
  • A meaningful length of leave — at least 12 weeks.  
  • Coverage for the full range of medical and family caregiving needs established in the Family and Medical Leave Act.  
  • Affordability and cost-effectiveness for workers, employers and the government.  
  • Inclusivity in its definition of “family.”   
  • Protections against employer retaliation when workers utilize their right to take leave. 

Early Head Start 

Expand Early Head Start to reach all eligible infants and toddlers, while prioritizing enrolling significantly more pregnant people. 

Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) 

  • Infuse all early childhood settings, such as pediatric care, child care, and home visiting, with an understanding of infant and early childhood mental health to promote positive social-emotional development and seek support from IECMH professionals to address behavioral health concerns. 
  • Expand specialized infant and early childhood mental health workforce and access to infant and early childhood mental health and perinatal mental health services.   

Economic Security 

Create long-term solutions to close the wealth gap starting at birth, including:  

  • a $15 federal minimum wage; 
  • enhanced federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits; and  
  • a child allowance through a Young Child Tax Credit. 

Family Support 

Empower communities to create a continuum to strengthen families by:

  • providing early preventive and developmental support through primary care and community-based approaches, and
  • transforming the child welfare system using early developmental science and trauma responsive policies and practices that help keep families intact and thriving, such as proposed in the Strengthening America’s Family Act.