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NCSL, University of Texas Partner on Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center

By Melissa Mincic | July 8, 2020 | State Legislatures Magazine

State lawmakers are paying greater attention to issues affecting infants and toddlers as scientific evidence underscores the importance of nurturing and stimulating environments during the period from prenatal development to age 3.

To deepen its support for policymakers with an interest in prenatal-to-3 policies, NCSL’s Children and Families Program is partnering with the new Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. Launched at NCSL’s 2019 Legislative Summit in Nashville, Tenn., the center is led by Cynthia Osborne, an associate dean and the director of the Child and Family Research Partnership at the LBJ School. The center will provide lawmakers with reliable data and verified resources on prenatal-to-3 policies, and collaborative opportunities to advance policies related to maternal and child health, parenting and family supports and early learning environments.

The center will soon release its inaugural “Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap” to help states and communities build effective prenatal-to-3 systems. The guide will highlight state-level policies that have a strong evidence base for promoting healthy beginnings, strengthening families and ensuring children are in high-quality care environments. The center will host its inaugural National Prenatal-to-3 Research to Policy Summit, Sept. 15, with the theme “Building a State Policy Roadmap to Strengthen the Earliest Years.” Dr. Jack Shonkoff, a pediatrician and the founding director of Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, will deliver the keynote address.

To help bridge the gap between researchers and policymakers, NCSL hosted a policy symposium in Austin in January. Legislators and researchers alike deepened their understanding of prenatal-to-3 issues in the states and options for improving child outcomes. “The Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center is thrilled to work closely with NCSL,” Osborne said. “NCSL is a highly valued and respected partner to all states, and we look forward to hearing from legislators about their priorities and policy goals and how our resources can help inform their work.”

NCSL’s members can look forward to more resources and learning opportunities to come from this new partnership.

Melissa Mincic is a senior policy specialist in NCSL’s Children and Families Program.

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