Advancing Connections Between Health, Learning and Families

The Alliance for Early Success is pleased to release two new reports that expand on our Birth through Age Eight Policy Framework by identifying key policies that connect health, family support, and early learning.

Quick links to the reports:

About the reports

Research shows that the time period from birth through age eight is a critical one for establishing the solid foundations essential for children’s long-term health, well-being, and learning.  Research also shows the essential role of health and families in supporting the foundations of child development and learning.  The new reports are part of an on–going effort of the Alliance for Early Success to further explore the health and family support policy areas in the Birth Through Age Eight State Policy Framework.  The reports are the result of a yearlong process that included key informant interviews with a range of experts, and two meetings of state and national experts across the policy areas. 

State Policies that Support the Intersection between Health and Early Learning was produced by the Keystone Center in collaboration with the Alliance for Early Success, and highlights the critical policies that intersect the health and learning domains. As we look to improve state policies that lead to good health, learning, and family outcomes, it is critical to ensure that policies capitalize on the intersections between health and learning and include strategies that address the spectrum of environments children and families face.

Bridging State Policies for Children and Families was produced after the Alliance convened a meeting with the National Governors Association and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  The paper was written by Anna Lovejoy, an independent consultant, in collaboration with the Alliance for Early Success.  Significant public attention currently focuses on the importance of high-quality early learning settings for all children, and the public sector’s role in ensuring that vulnerable children especially can access and benefit from them. But given the role and primary influence of parents, the public sector can maximize outcomes by equipping parents with the skills, knowledge, capacities and resources they need to support their children.

The recommendations in both papers serve as a roadmap to achieve good outcomes for young children and families.  Effective policy combines a broad definition of health and supports for families, caregivers, and teachers within a continuous improvement framework that includes common measures and accountability across health, learning, and family support.  They will also be used to update the Birth Through Age Eight State Policy Framework.

In addition to these two reports, the Alliance is currently investing in the following health and family support activities:

  • Building a Health Agenda: The National Academy for Health Policy will provide technical assistance to 3-4 Alliance states as they think through health components of their early childhood agenda. 
  • Advancing Health Equity: BUILD will support and document intensive work with two state teams as part of a larger learning community of states working on health equity.
  • Financing Early Childhood Mental Health: The National Center for Children in Poverty, Zero to Three and BUILD will work with Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia on early childhood mental health policies.  They will also produce a 50-state survey on how states are using Medicaid funding for early childhood mental health services.
  • Exploring New Opportunities to Address Maternal Depression:  The Center for Law and Social Policy will explore ways to leverage state opportunities to address maternal depression. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires new coverage of mental health, and those opportunities can be enhanced through several strategies. CLASP will explore the policy landscape, as well as state needs, and lay the groundwork for future policy work with states.
  • Supporting Families:  The Center for Law and Social Policy will support state efforts to leverage federal early education opportunities, including Early Head Start-child care partnerships.  The National Center for Children in Poverty will co-convene a learning community with the Center for Law and Social Policy to advance state policies on parent engagement.
  • Home Visiting Strategies: First Focus will provide technical assistance and updates to Alliance partners about federal home visiting efforts and opportunities for state expansion of home visiting strategies.

Next Steps
We will be creating an Advisory Group to provide guidance on possible new partners and investments in these two areas, and the intersections among all three. 

For more information about Alliance investments, please visit: http://earlysuccess.org/partnerships.

-Steffanie Clothier
Senior Policy Director
Alliance for Early Success

(November 2014)