Impact Area

Positive Early Learning Experiences


Infants and toddlers learn through interactions with the significant adults in their lives and active exploration of enriching environments. The quality of infants and toddlers’ early learning experiences at home and in other care settings can impact their cognitive and social-emotional development, as well as early literacy.

Access to quality early learning experiences was challenging before the pandemic, from reading with family members to access to high quality early care and learning settings. The pandemic’s impact continues to have serious implications for babies’ early learning and development, both in the home and in increasingly stressed child care settings.

Key Findings

The child care workforce remains 7 %
smaller than it was prior to the pandemic, and those providers who are operating face an ongoing struggle to keep their doors open to families.

Comprehensive early childhood education, beginning at birth, is a powerful and cost-effective way to mitigate the negative consequences that poverty has on child development and later opportunity in adulthood. Despite these benefits only 11 percent of babies in poverty are reached by Early Head Start.

Learn more by getting the Positive Early Learning Experiences Chapter

The State of Babies

The state where a child is born and lives during their first three years makes a big difference in their chance for a strong start in life. See how your state stacks up—and view where significant disparities exist in the opportunities available for babies.

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Positive Early Learning Experiences

The Positive Early Learning Experiences domain addresses infants and toddlers’ exposure to learning experiences at home, families’ access to child care (including costs and the reach of assistance to families), child care quality, and the extent to which babies receive developmental screening and early intervention services.


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