Principles

The Birth Through Age Eight State Policy Framework is a tool, or road map, that anyone can use to guide policy in ways that will improve the health, learning, and economic outcomes for vulnerable young children.  The Framework rests on 5 principles.  Click here to see Resources

  1. Birth through age 8 continuum: Decades of science show that development of the brain and other critical biological systems is most rapid and sensitive in the earliest years.  References to “early childhood” and “early learning” in the Framework span the developmental period from birth through 8, because this age continuum forms the foundation for better and longer-lasting success later in life.
  2. Priority on vulnerable populations: Because early adversity can lead to sustained levels of stress that are toxic to developing brains, vulnerable children should be a priority in state policies and funding. Having one or more of the following risk factors increases the likelihood of poor health, learning, and economic outcomes:
    • poverty
    • racial/ethnic minority
    • low parental education
    • single or teenage parent
    • immigrant
    • household without English speakers
    • disability
    • homeless or high residential mobility
    • abuse, neglect or exposure to violence
  3. State policy focus: While there are important interactions of local, state, and federal policy, this Framework focuses only on policies states can influence through legislative, regulatory, and budgetary actions.
  4. Adequate resources: Success in changing the trajectory of a child’s development depends on the efficient use of public and private funds. Allocating sufficient resources in a smart way is necessary in order to achieve better outcomes for vulnerable children.
  5. Evidence base: Policy options included in the Framework are based on the best available research and innovative best practice. These will change as more evidence about what works to improve outcomes for vulnerable populations emerges.