Early Nutrition Toolkit Intro: For Policymakers

September 1, 2011

Good Reads   |   Tools    |   Policy Round-up

Help position infant feeding and nutrition as a primary prevention strategy in the fight against childhood obesity. In today's policy climate, policymakers at all levels have considerable opportunities and tools to improve the lives of children, starting early. A wide range of policies influence early nutrition, just as early nutrition influences children's lives, development and education. Here are some vetted research, education needs and best practices produced by leading organizations and coalitions.

In the words of the LINI project, "government programs can initiate the momentum needed to achieve sustainable differences for Hispanic mothers, infants and their families."



9/2012: TANF Waivers to Support Parental Employment Have Potential to Impact Early Nutrition


Recommended Reading

  • From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development (2000) National Academies Press - This report discusses the evidence on nature-versus-nurture, the impact of family, child care and the community on child development, how politics impact programs for children, the costs and benefits of intervention and more. Check out the 2010 10th anniversary edition, with a video and podcast.
  • Center on the Developing Child: Reports and Working Papers (various dates, 2004 - present) Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University - These reports and working papers summarize findings from the research on the developing brain and emphasize the importance of using science to promote the healthy development of all children, especially those whose prospects are compromised by adversity.

Tools for Policymakers

Building Comprehensive State Systems for Vulnerable Babies  |  The Center for Law & Social Policy
Every state has the pieces of a comprehensive early childhood system in place. This tool will help state leaders locate and build them into a system that meets the needs of children and families.

National Infant & Toddler Child Care Initiative  | ZERO TO THREE  
This Initiative is a project of the Office of Child Care (OCC), Administration for Children and Families, Department of Health and Human Services. It is designed to support Child Care Development Fund administrators in their efforts to effect systems-wide improvements in infant and toddler child care.

What State Leaders Should Know About Early Head Start  |  The Center for Law & Social Policy

Increase in Hunger Means Increase in Multiple Needs  |  The Center for Law & Social Policy
During hard times the country's safety net, including nutrition programs, becomes a life line for children.

National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) | Rutgers University, Pew Charitable Trusts
NIEER supports early childhood education initiatives by providing objective, nonpartisan information based on research.

National Governors Association, Center for Best Practices   | National Governors Association 
The NGA's Center for Best Practices supports the work of governors, their policy advisors and others leading efforts to promote school readiness by building a comprehensive system of services for children ages birth to five.

The Build Initiative   | Early Childhood Funders' Collaborative  
Build has tools for state leaders to plan and implement a comprehensive early childhood "system of systems" that crosses policy domains. The aim is to prepare young children from birth to age five to succeed by helping their families access high quality early learning programs, family and parenting support, early intervention services for children with special needs, and comprehensive health, mental health and nutritional services.

Policy Round-Up

Elementary and Secondary Education Act
Preparations for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind, have included discussions on how to incorporate early childhood into federal policies for the K-12 system.

Good Start, Grow Smart (GSGS) Early Learning Initiative
GSGS was created in 2002 to ensure that all young children enter kindergarten with the skills they need to succeed. The goals include: (1) partnering with States to improve early childhood education through early learning guidelines, professional development, and program coordination; (2) strengthening Head Start; and (3) providing information based on scientific research to teachers, caregivers, and parents.

Affordable Care Act Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program
In May 2010, the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Administration on Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released introductory materials related to the new Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, which was created as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

State Early Childhood Policies and Initiatives | National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center
Most states have early childhood policies and initiatives in place that are meant to promote healthy development and school readiness, so children have a better chance of later success in school and beyond. National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center's Web page of Early Childhood Data Sources provides links to a variety of state policies, data and initiatives related to early childhood care, nutrition and education.

What can you as a policymaker do?

Support sustainable action plans: working together at the state or community level, leaders can build sustainable action plans that include a focus on nutrition and early childhood supports.  These should be done in partnership with target population(s), community leaders and health care providers and should map existing interventions and gaps, to help define a

For more on action plans, visit the Ready by 21 Partnership site.



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