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Invest now in future thinkers – give babies healthy start

November 6, 2015

A new infographic by Zero to Three, the National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families shows how critically important a program such as HANDS (Health Access Nurturing Development Services) is to raising happy, healthy babies and giving them the best life possible.

According to data, today, nearly half of America’s babies live in or near poverty, which has been shown – due to early stress and a lack of positive early experiences – to diminish brain growth and development. This undermines future opportunity in school readiness and academic success, and it threatens America’s global competitiveness.

In children in poverty, by age two, children in the lowest socio-economic group are behind their peers in measures of cognitive, language and social-emotional development. For example, vocabulary (number of words) at 18 months in children in poverty is approximately 107 vs. 174 in their economically advantaged peers, and at 24 months, the gap widens, with 288 words vs. 442.

HANDS, a program of Family & Children’s Place, which features in-home visitations with trained professionals, gives new parents tools and techniques they can use before and after their child’s birth to help manage stress and demands, and activities and resources to ensure the baby’s healthy and happy development.

Through play and practice, parents build strong, nurturing relationships with their babies that help grow and build healthy brains, which contribute to future success.

Data show we need to invest – now – in these future thinkers, today’s children and tomorrow’s leaders. Early childhood education, beginning in the cradle, is critical to growing the happiest, healthiest children possible, and giving them the hand up they need to be successful students, adults and, potentially, parents.

Programs such as HANDS are invaluable elements of these investments.