As a constituent, I’m writing to share new information about how babies are faring in [STATE] and urge you to Think BabiesTM and invest in our future.
The State of Babies Yearbook: 2021 shows us that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the littlest among us did not have the supports they needed to thrive. As a result the pandemic has wreaked havoc on the conditions that contribute to babies’ development and families’ stability. We did not need a crystal ball to predict how our nation’s infants and toddlers would be impacted. Black and Brown babies and babies in families with low income continue to experience disparities in good health, strong families, and positive early learning experiences resulting from barriers associated with systemic racism and lack of economic opportunity. It is high time we enact robust, comprehensive, permanent child and family policies so our nation’s families will never again be set adrift, in crisis or in calm.
According to the Yearbook, [INSERT STATE DATA] percent of babies in [STATE] were living in poverty before the COVID-19 crisis, and we know that families are now struggling more than ever as they continue to face the economic impact of the pandemic. Exploring the numbers by race and ethnicity presents a clearer picture, revealing that as many as [INSERT STATE DATA] percent of Black babies and [INSERT STATE DATA] percent of Hispanic babies in our state were already living in poverty compared to [INSERT STATE DATA] on average. By nearly every measure, children living in families with low income and children of color face the biggest obstacles now and even prior to COVID-19. The current crisis has further exposed and exacerbated these disparities and structural barriers, which have harmful and life-altering effects that begin even before birth and can last a lifetime.
A baby’s brain develops faster between ages 0 to 3 than at any later point in life, forming more than one million new neural connections every second. Our brains are built. The experiences we have in our earliest years lay the groundwork for the rest of our lives. When babies have nurturing relationships, positive early learning experiences, and good health and nutrition, those neural connections are stimulated and strengthened, laying a strong foundation for all later learning. When babies don’t get what their growing brains need to thrive, they don’t develop as they should. This leads to life-long developmental, educational, social, and health challenges. Every baby deserves to reach their full potential. Where you’re born, the color of your skin, or your family’s income should not make a difference in your chances for a strong start in life.
It has never been more urgent to Think Babies and make the potential of every baby our national priority. In order to comprehensively meet babies’ needs beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and build stronger systems for the future, we need to [ADAPT PRIORITIES AS APPROPRIATE BASED ON YOUR STATE CONTEXT]:
- Invest in quality child care
- Make paid leave permanent
- Permanently expand the Child Tax Credit
- Expand Early Head Start
- Invest in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health
- Transform the Strong system for family support
I hope that you will find the State of Babies Yearbook: 2021 a helpful resource as you consider the policies and investments needed in [STATE] to put babies and families first. To simply return to the way things were is unacceptable. To do better for our babies and our nation’s future, we need to seize the opportunity to create the forward-looking, family-centered policies that our nation has lacked. We can’t afford to squander the potential of a single child if our nation is to fully recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and find success in the years to come. I would be happy to discuss this further with you. [INSERT CONTACT INFORMATION]