Maternal health, both physical and emotional, is the foundation for the first 1000 days of a child's life. Depression, particularly in mothers, has a direct and measurable impact on the health and well-being of women and their families. If untreated, the depression contributes to long-term health, education, and societal costs. We advocate for universal screening and support for state mental health programs to address parental depression among vulnerable families; leveraging of federal and state funding to develop a comprehensive strategy for early childhood depression; and investing in education and training to ensure a qualified infant mental health work force is available to meet the state’s needs.
Quality early learning programs improve language skills and help reduce the achievement gap to increase kindergarten readiness and early grade success. There is opportunity to strengthen the School Readiness program with the implementation of quality standards and aligned accountability that includes: 1) a clear definition of quality based on core standards and practices that must be in place to provide assurances of
strong teaching practices that best support children’s development; and 2) program outcomes to validate that School Readiness is valuable as an effective early education program. This is accomplished by:
- Adopting minimum quality standards for child care providers contracting with ELCS for School Readiness based on teacher-child interactions.
- Identification of Gold Seal accrediting entities with demonstrable impact on child outcomes.
These services can make the difference between a lifetime of needs provided by the state, as opposed to minimal or no needed services later on. Florida’s budget is about $900 annually, per child, on average. This is low compared with other states of comparable size and characteristics like Pennsylvania, which budgets a total of $5,268 per child.
While the first 1,000 days of life offer the most opportunity for development, it is also the most vulnerable time for maltreatment. More than 9000 children 0-3 are in out-of-home care; 40% of children placed were newborns. More than 4000 babies were born addicted to opioids in Florida. Many re-enter the system because the family’s underlying issues were not fully addressed. Florida’s Early Childhood Court teams (ECC), fondly called “baby courts” are one of the solutions to Florida’s opioid and child welfare crisis.
The 1,000 days from the start of a woman's pregnancy until the child's 3rd birthday offer a singular window of opportunity to shape healthier and more successful children. Skills and risks that develop during this critical period are cumulative and form the foundation for every child’s future. That's why Florida must prioritize its policies to support pre-natal and post-natal care, high quality early childhood education, health care, and other prevention services. For Florida to have a sustainable social and economic future, it must invest more in families with young children.
The inaugural First 1000 Days Florida Summit, held in 2015, drew more than 700 participants from programs in maternal and child health, prevention of abuse and neglect, early intervention, child care and school readiness.
The 2nd summit in 2018 was held at the Palm Beach Convention Center and drew over 1000 participants. The statewide multi-disciplinary, cross-sector conference focused on science, skill-building and advocacy for home visitors and other early childhood staff serving expectant and new families with children through age 3.
During a recent survey of over 100 of our partners, we asked for recommendations for new policy interests in which the First 1000 Days of Florida could incorporate in the upcoming year. Five primary topics were recorded: