The NCSL Blog


By Alison May

DID YOU KNOW? In 2018, more than 286,000 U.S. families received voluntary, evidence-based home visiting services for a grand total of 3.2 million home visits. Learn more about home visiting at the National Home Visiting Resource Center and its just-released Home Visiting Yearbook.

NCSL’s Children and Families program covers many human services issues, including child support and family law, child welfare, early care and education, family economic security, housing and homelessness. For more about our program visit



  • Homeless Youth Policy Scan: State policymakers are increasingly interested in preventing youth homelessness and mitigating the consequences when it does occur. Legislators are tackling the problem in a variety of ways, including adopting state definitions of youth homelessness, addressing the disparate outcomes for vulnerable populations and protecting the federally guaranteed educational rights of homeless youth. To learn more about youth homelessness and states’ responses to it, check out NCSL’s new policy scan.
  • Archived Webinar | Infant and Toddler Data to Support Ready Learners: The State of Babies Yearbook, an initiative of Zero to Three and Child Trends, presents state-by-state data comparing 60 indicators across three policy domains: good health, strong families and positive early learning experiences for very young children. Learn from Zero to Three’s Kim Keating in this archived webinar as she explains how to use the yearbook to support your legislative activities.


  • Child Welfare Legislative Policy Network: In this recent issue, access information on approved prevention programs and services under Family First, a legislative session update and highlights of work being done across the states. 
  • Early Care and Education Update: In this fall issue, NCSL shares recent publications, updates on our prenatal-to-three work, and examples of how states are supporting child care for families experiencing homelessness.
  • NEW LegisBrief | States Elevate Early Learning: During the 2019 legislative session, 49 states introduced 496 bills and resolutions related to early learning, with 87 bills enacted in 29 states. Studies show that children who start school early in life do better both in and out of the classroom. In this two-page LegisBrief, read about specific state activity as well as related federal actions.
  • How to Take a Three-Branch Approach to Reforming Child Welfare: NCSL and the National Governors Association (NGA) recently released a toolkit that outlines recommended steps and protocols for engaging the three branches of state government in collaborative efforts to address child welfare issues. The toolkit, housed on NGA’s website, includes strategies for success, common challenges, state case studies and document templates. For more information about three-branch work and this publication, watch the recording of last month’s webinar and check out NCSL’s Three-Branch Institute webpage.


  • Early Head Start: An Essential Support for Pregnant Women, Infants, and Toddlers (Source: Zero To Three | October 2019)
    This policy brief makes a case for the expansion of Early Head Start and offers recommendations for federal and state policymakers.
  • Early Progress: State Child Care Assistance Policies 2019 (Source: National Women’s Law Center | Nov. 2019)
    This report examines states’ policies in five key areas—income eligibility limits to qualify for child care assistance, waiting lists for child care assistance, copayments required of parents receiving child care assistance, payment rates for child care providers serving families receiving child care assistance, and eligibility for child care assistance for parents searching for a job. Read the report.

Alison May is a policy associate with NCSL’s Children and Families Program. She covers early care and education issues.  

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.