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: 2021 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:
- Only 11% of infants and toddlers who are eligible for Early Head Start are currently being served by it, and the proportion served varies from 3% to 23% across states.
- Infant care is too expensive for many families, exceeding the cost of college tuition in more than half of states. Only 16 states allow child care subsidies for families with incomes over 200% of the federal poverty level, and only 4 percent of low and moderate income families that could use help with paying for child care receive a subsidy.
- Nationally, only 1 in 3 infants and toddlers received a developmental screening in the past year. Hispanic, Black, and Asian parents reporting that their child had received a developmental screening were lower than the national average.