Dear Member of Congress:
We are writing to you today as professionals who work on behalf of infants and toddlers. We see firsthand how our state’s youngest children are faring, and we urge you to bear in mind their importance as you address the serious issues facing our country. To give you a more complete picture of our state’s needs, we are enclosing State Baby Facts (www.zerotothree.org/policy/statebabyfacts), which contains vital information about our infants and toddlers and illustrates the importance of federal programs in supporting their healthy development.
STATE Baby Facts [each letter will have state-specific data] shows that we have 500,000 infants and toddlers in our state, each one a promise for the future. Yet, we see too many young children are at risk for leaving that promise unfulfilled. Fifty percent are in families without enough income to make ends meet and one in three lives in outright poverty. Sixteen percent are born prematurely. Young children are more vulnerable to maltreatment. Many of their families must spend more than
half their income just to pay the rent. And 60 percent of moms with infants are in the labor force, but not enough help with child care is available.
During the first three years of life, the brain undergoes dramatic development. Early experiences affect how the brain is wired, creating the foundation for all learning that follows. Young children in adverse circumstances have less success in school and live a life of unrealized potential. But we know how to help them beat the odds. Many programs-such as Medicaid, which supports good health; home visiting, which supports strong families; and Early Head Start, which provides
comprehensive positive early learning experiences-help supply crucial resources many families lack as they seek to support their children’s early development.
In the coming weeks and months, Congress will be making decisions about the policies that shape many of these programs and the funding that determines their reach. As you do so, please remember that these programs actively build strong foundations for the healthy development that will enable today‘s young children to contribute to America’s success. How we treat our babies profoundly shapes who they will become, and thus the future of our nation.
Last week, many of us gathered in Washington at ZERO TO THREE’s National Training Institute and were inspired by the connections between science, policy, and practice. Others from back home joined with us to let you know how important it is to translate what we know from the science into what we do to support our youngest children. We know you share our belief that all babies need to grow up healthy, with the best chance of succeeding in school and in life. We hope you will use your position to Be a Big Voice for Little Kids(TM) and give them that chance. We stand ready to work with you.
SIGN THE LETTER NOW at http://capwiz.com/zerotothree/utr/1/FAXSQXQDMV/OHIWQXXEIF/7687514841!