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Child Trends

Child Trends is the nation’s leading research organization focused exclusively on improving the lives of children and youth, especially children and families who are overlooked or ill served by public systems. 

Child Trends researchers focus on understanding how early childhood experiences set the stage for children’s development and well-being, with expertise in early learning and care settings, family supports, maltreatment prevention, home visiting, child welfare, the early childhood workforce, trauma informed care, and maternal and child health. Child Trends embeds equity into each decision it makes to address the systemic, discriminatory structures that negatively impact children of color. The organization’s work is built on the principle that programs and policies that serve children are most effective when they are informed by data and evidence and grounded in deep knowledge of child and youth development.

Our state allies can call on Child Trends to:

Support the use of data to combat disparities and communicate equitable policy solutions.

Child Trends leads the Early Childhood Data Collaborative and supports allies by sharing early childhood data and research-based policy recommendations to understand and address racial and economic disparities. Researchers work with partners to embed a racial equity lens at every stage of the research process, address potential bias, disaggregate data by race, and identify questions to understand institutional policies that produce disparities. Child Trends also supports allies in how to communicate effectively and equitably about data and findings to support policy and advocacy efforts.

Translate research into plain language and framing for policymakers.

When framed effectively, equity-focused data can help make a powerful case for effective early childhood policy. Child Trends’ provide expertise on the collection, communication, and application of research and data around early childhood policy issues, such as early childhood system responses to COVID-19 , implementation and use of CCBDG funds, pre-K data and evaluations, child care quality, workforce needs, young children with disabilities, young children who have experienced abuse or neglect, and dual-language learners. Support includes input on research approaches (such as understanding when and how to survey providers and parents on their needs) or help interpreting current research.

Engage families and communities to understand barriers to equitable access to early childhood programs and services.

Child Trends, the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) and a panel of national researchers and state policymakers created a family-centered definition of access. This framework allows state and community leaders to define, measure, and assess families’ access to early childhood programs and services – not on early care and education, but early intervention, home visiting, prenatal care coordination and others. By examining access from a family perspective state and community leaders can better understand family preferences, but also systemic inequities in access. Equipped with these data, state and community leaders can better tailor policy and programmatic solutions that mitigate specific challenges and elevate family preferences. Our team can support efforts to collect and or examine existing data related to equitable access to inform your advocacy efforts.

Provide research expertise and current insights on a range of early childhood topics.

Child Trends experts can develop policy-relevant technical assistance tailored to support state advocacy needs, for example fact sheets, blogs, and presentations that elevate research and data that are relevant to early childhood advocates.

On the Ground:

  • In New York, Child Trends has worked with advocates to develop strategies to end exclusionary disciplinary practices in early education.
  • In Tennessee, Child Trends helped advocates explore their own data, develop new data partnerships to increase access to state-level data, and implement strategies to use and communicate data to support children and families. 
  • In West Virginia, Child Trends worked with advocates to analyze state child welfare data and identify trends over time. Through data crosswalks and rigorous analysis, they helped illuminate issues, including racial disparities within West Virginia’s child welfare system.


“Previously, lawmakers were skeptical that our state was an outlier regarding child welfare referrals, foster care placements, and racial disparities. They now are acknowledging the reality and actively seeking solutions to address these disparities and improve outcomes for children in the state.”

Jim McKay,
Prevent Child Abuse WV
TEAM for WV Children