Learning is essential to healthy development and begins right from the start. Babies learn through play, active exploration of the world around them, and through positive interaction with the adults in their lives. These early experiences are crucial for supporting healthy emotional and cognitive development and helping babies evolve into strong learners and successful adults.
Key indicators of positive early learning experiences include:
- Early Care and Education Opportunities
- Early Intervention and Prevention Services
The State of Babies Yearbook: 2019 shows the need for investment in policies that ensure babies have access to affordable, quality care that is a major contributor related to positive early learning experiences. For example:
- Despite the high cost of infant care, few families receive financial assistance for it. Only 4.2% of low- and moderate-income infants and toddlers are served by the Child Care and Development Fund.
- Only 12 states allow child care subsidies for families with incomes over 200% of the federal poverty level.
- Nationally, only 38% of infants and toddlers are read to every day, an important contributor to language development, with state averages ranging from a low of 26% to a high of 59%. Parents talked to and sang to their young children more frequently, ranging from 45% to 69%.
- Despite their rapid growth in their first three years, only 30% of infants and toddlers received a developmental screening in the past year. This ranged from a low of 17% to a high of 59%, but only 11 states topped 40%.
States that are ‘Working Effectively’ in providing positive early learning experiences include: