Pennsylvania Wins Nationwide Grant Competition – Set to Expand High-Quality Prenatal-to-Age-Three Services to Pa. Infants and Toddlers and Their Families

Pritzker Children’s Initiative awards Pa. planning grant to establish actionable prenatal-to-age-three policy agenda

Pennsylvania has been announced a winner of the Pritzker Children’s Initiative (PCI) Prenatal-to-Age-Three State Grant Competition, awarding cross-sector coalitions in 11 states, including Pennsylvania, planning grants to develop and strengthen high-quality prenatal-to-age-three services. With research showing that a child’s brain develops faster in the first three years than at any later period in life, building the foundation for all future learning, behavior and health, PCI opened the grant competition to identify states with a strategic vision for supporting infants, toddlers and their families. Pennsylvania presented a bold and innovative plan to put the state’s youngest children on a path for future success in school and life. The other states named in today’s announcement include Arkansas, District of Columbia, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.

By the February deadline, 42 of 44 eligible states plus the District of Columbia submitted applications identifying strategies to expand high-quality early childhood services through innovative and collaborative efforts. Those states that weren’t eligible for this competition were those where the foundation is already working with stakeholders to bring forward a coordinated prenatal-to-age-three agenda – California, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Oregon.

Kari King, President and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, said the prenatal-to-age-three coalition will leverage public and private partnerships to build on the critical ongoing investments for the 432,580 infants and toddlers across the Commonwealth.

“By focusing on a comprehensive policy continuum including access to health care, evidence-based home visiting programs, and high-quality child care for infants and toddlers, we can establish a detailed strategy to serve an additional 25 percent of low-income families with children prenatal to age three,” King said. “It’s a good first step as we see national policy trends focusing on this age group and is an opportunity for our organization to combine our existing policy work to specifically improve the well-being of this population of children.”

Recipients of the grants have each been awarded $100,000 to establish a coalition of state- and community-level partners inside and outside government to develop an ambitious prenatal-to-age-three policy agenda and action plan, focused on expanding access to high-quality programs designed to support children’s healthy development and build a strong foundation for future learning. These Planning Grant recipients will also be eligible for Implementation Grants based on the quality of the plan they develop over the next six to nine months.

“This grant competition has illuminated the nation’s commitment to supporting infants and toddlers. We knew that there was widespread agreement on the importance of the earliest years in a child’s life, but we were delighted to see the innovative thinking by states to significantly expand services to families with infants and toddlers,” said Gerry Cobb, director of the Pritzker Children’s Initiative. “The most promising applications integrated approaches that build on locally-driven efforts and maximize the best practices across child care, health, early childhood education and human services to address new challenges facing infants, toddlers and their families. Pennsylvania submitted a bold proposal that brings diverse leaders to the table to coordinate across fields and establish a unified policy agenda and action plan supporting infants, toddlers and their families.” 

The unprecedented interest and clear demand from the field indicates both the need and growing momentum around investing in prenatal-to-three efforts that will support families. Due to the overwhelming demand and quality of the proposals submitted, PCI will also support continued planning work in three additional states that are showing great promise:  New Mexico, New Jersey and South Carolina.

To ensure the innovations, policies and best practices developed in state coalitions are shared and effectively implemented, grant winners will also join the PCI-funded National Collaborative for Infants and Toddlers (NCIT). Through critical community-based approaches and a shared commitment to the healthy development of our youngest children, NCIT can invest deeper in state and local programs and policies across the country.

Research shows that when we invest in the first three years of a child’s life the returns for states are the highest, and we can reduce the need for more expensive interventions later in life. In addition to the economic benefits, high-quality early childhood development programs can reduce chronic disease and health care costs, and their benefits include better education outcomes and higher incomes as adults.  Healthy development in early childhood helps prepare children for the educational experiences of kindergarten and beyond. When infants and toddlers get what their growing brains need, they become healthy kids who are confident, empathetic and ready for school and life.

About the Pritzker Children’s Initiative (PCI)

The Pritzker Children’s Initiative (PCI), a project of the J.B. and M. K. Pritzker Family Foundation, is committed to building a promising future for our country by investing in and supporting solutions in early childhood development for children prenatal to age three, with the goal of every child reaching kindergarten ready to learn. More information about PCI can be found here.

 About The National Collaborative for Infants and Toddlers (NCIT)

The National Collaborative for Infants and Toddlers (NCIT) is committed to advancing policies and programs that ensure families have the support they need to give their infants and toddlers the foundation for a strong start in life. Funded by the Pritzker Children’s Initiative, a program of the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation, this effort brings together national partners, early childhood leaders, policymakers and practitioners inside and outside state and local government to create and strengthen promising policies and programs and share what works so that more states and communities can support the healthy development of our youngest children. More information about NCIT can be found here.