Every crib is a think tank.
Birth to three years old is the peak age for brain development and learning. In fact, with 700 new neural connections forming every second, the first three years of life are the most crucial time for developing critical brain functions such as hearing, language and cognition.
To make the most of this time, kids need rich and safe environments. That means homes where parents can meet their family’s basic needs and where their own social and emotional well-being is nurtured. It also means the chance to participate in high-quality early childhood development and learning programs. If either of these key environments is lacking, gaps can appear early, sometimes even before a child’s first birthday. That means that by the time some children reach preschool, they are already playing catch-up.
We have a number of high-quality programs and services in place to provide those positive early opportunities for children birth to five, including child care, Early Head Start, early intervention and home visiting. Unfortunately, these programs are not always adequately funded.
Here’s an example: Children can miss out on early childhood opportunities if parents cannot supply diapers, which most centers require. Though Early Head Start programs are mandated to provide diapers, the budgets they receive from the federal government are often too tight to allow for that. These programs sometimes turn to diaper banks, community-based non-profits dedicated to keeping every baby clean, dry and healthy.
Parents and experts in the early childhood field across the country are urging President Obama and Congress to expand early learning opportunities for infants and toddlers, as well as young children in preschool. You can be part of it.
Join the Rally4Babies on Monday, July 8, at 2:00 EST to show your support for our youngest children. The event will be hosted online at Google Hangout on Air, and details and updates are being posted on www.rally4babies.org. The National Diaper Bank Network is proud to be a co-sponsor.
You can connect live with keynote speakers, including Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services; Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education; Jennifer Garner, actor and Save the Children artist ambassador; Laurie Berkner, children’s musician; Alma Powell, chair of the board of America’s Promise Alliance; as well as parents and leaders in the early childhood learning field. The rally will be hosted by journalist Soledad O’Brien.
When infants and toddlers get a strong start, our nation prospers. Learning happens from the start, and so should our investments in children.