Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Giving Infants and Toddlers a Head Start: Getting Policies in Sync With Knowledge

Knitzer, Jane EdD

Section Editor(s): Gilliam, Walter S. PhD

doi: 10.1097/01.IYC.0000306370.02296.4d
Article
Buy

Drawing on the take-home messages from recent neuroscience and developmental research, this article focuses on the challenge of using that knowledge in the service of a more appropriate policy framework to support the healthy development of infants and toddlers and to better support their families and other caregivers. Using data from a recent 50 state study of current health, child care and family support policies, the article maps the current policy status against the research knowledge base, and finds the current framework wanting, particularly for the lack of policy attention to promoting health relationships right from the start. It then highlights 5 core policy challenges: enacting a national family leave, expanding access to child and family programs like Early Head Start, providing policy incentives and resources for high-quality infant and toddler child care, strengthening the early identification and treatment for infants and toddlers at risk of poor development, and building a policy framework to support, in every state, an infant and early childhood mental health infrastructure. The article concludes with a set of research-informed principles that could guide a next generation of targeted infant-toddler policies that address these critical challenges.

National Center for Children in Poverty, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York.

Corresponding Author: Jane Knitzer, EdD, National Center for Children in Poverty, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, 215 West 125th St, New York, NY 10027 (jk340@columbia.edu).

©2008Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.