Prenatal-to-3 Policies



Adult holding a sleeping infant

Scientific research has confirmed and clarified what is known about the effects of prenatal health and early experiences on a child’s development and is informing policymaking in many state legislatures.

Simply put, babies require responsive and caring relationships with adults in nurturing and stimulating environments. The implications for school readiness and success later in life can be profound.

Moreover, the economic return on investment from high-quality infant and toddler programs can be significant. Nobel laureate economist James Heckman asserts that nurturing, positive early development experiences are as important to a child’s future as a good education. His research shows that investing early in young children’s lives improves health outcomes, supports greater upward mobility and reduces social costs. Heckman found a financial return on investment of up to 13 percent for investments in programs beginning at birth, high-quality child care and health services for infants and toddlers in low-income families. The RAND Corporation found a return of $2 to $4 for every dollar spent on well-designed and implemented high-quality early childhood programs.

Explore the tabs below to learn more about home visiting, high-quality early childhood programs and financing options states can take to promote better outcomes for infants and toddlers.