A child’s earliest experiences set the foundation for life-long success. What occurs during the first few years of life—beginning prenatally—has a substantial impact on both short and long-term outcomes in learning, behavior, and physical and mental health.
But right now, families—particularly those with infants and toddlers—are facing converging crises. COVID-19, racial injustice, and economic instability threaten the future of our youngest generation. Families are in distress and unable to afford the care their kids need to thrive. Many parents are jobless or are risking their health to work. They are struggling to put food on the table. Children lack peer-to-peer connection and daily structure. Child care and health care providers are undervalued and struggling to make ends meet. Families of color and communities with low incomes have been hit hardest by the pandemic. We are currently living in a two-tiered society where only some children and their families have access to necessary support in times of crisis. This is not only wrong, it is also dangerous and endangers our country’s success.
When we support children and their families in their youngest years, infants grow into healthy babies and healthy babies grow into healthy kids—equipped with the confidence and empathy to take on school and life.
These issues aren’t new. While they have been exacerbated in the past year, they predate COVID-19. Decades-long failures to invest in the critical needs families require to survive and thrive is undermining America’s economic potential. Without an investment in young children and their families, we cannot address the health, economic, and racial inequity crises made worse by the pandemic.
When we support children and their families in their youngest years, infants grow into healthy babies and healthy babies grow into healthy kids—equipped with the confidence and empathy to take on school and life. More so than at any later point, this early investment reaps lifelong benefits, strengthening our future communities, workforce, and economy.
Our country is at a tipping point, and our children’s futures are at stake. If we don’t focus on the needs of children and their families, particularly in the prenatal to three period, as the nation attempts to recover and rebuild from COVID-19, we risk creating a generation of children further behind than any other in recent history. Child development doesn’t stop when crises happen. We can’t stop either. We must ensure that our nation is equipped to support children and their families with the critical resources they need to survive the pandemic and thrive in the years beyond it. This is our opportunity to shape the future of millions of families - and our nation as a whole. Let’s recognize young children as our greatest resource and treat them as our highest priority. Their success is our future.
#KidsAreEssential is bringing together a broad coalition of partners who work across issues not necessarily associated with children.
Whether we work on housing, food insecurity, gender equity, immigration or a whole host of other issues, we believe that we all have a stake in kids’ futures. Issues that affect them will also affect the future of everything we hold dear. #KidsAreEssential is led by:
#KidsAreEssential is also supported by