University of Wisconsin–Madison

Why Do We Focus on the Prenatal-to-3 Age Period? Understanding the Importance of the Earliest years

Type Policy Brief or Report
Year 2021
Level National, State
State(s) All States
Policy Areas Children & Families, Health
The first three years of life are the most sensitive for a child’s developing brain and body. Exposure to chronic stressors during these years can lead to physical, cognitive, and emotional health problems in the future that can be costly for families and society to navigate. This report outlines conditions that improve the quality of life for the youngest children and their families. In particular, it argues that children with parents who have sufficient financial resources, social connections, access to services (such as high-quality child care), and good physical and mental health are in better positions than children with parents who struggle to make ends meet, feel isolated or overwhelmed, or have poor mental health.

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