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. Medicaid expansion for pregnancy increases access to needed health and mental health services, and reduces racial disparities in adverse birth outcomes through the first year after the birth. In 2021, the Florida Legislature expanded Medicaid through the first year after birth and has applied for federal approval. First 1000 Days Florida supports Medicaid as a key strategy for improving not only maternal and child health, but the health of the entire family.
Quality early learning programs improve language skills and help reduce the achievement gap to increase school readiness. High need children particularly benefit from high quality early learning especially important during the pivotal years of rapid brain development. Access to affordable, quality infant and toddler care is difficult to find. Florida’s Division of Early Learning provides child care subsidies and promotes school readiness by adopting quality standards with appropriate reimbursement. Access to quality infant toddler care is a First 1000 Days Florida Priority and benefits parents, children and the community.
Early Intervention services support families to optimize children’s mental health, cognitive, motor, behavioral, and language development, especially for infants born preterm or low birthweight. Screening can detect autism as early as 16 months and treated to minimize problems. First 1000 Days Florida supports expanding early screening,eligibility for early intervention, and early childhood mental health services to maximize the impact during the pivotal time of rapid infant & toddler development when most effective to intervene.
The first 1,000 days of life offers the most opportunity for development, and yet, the most vulnerability for adversity, including maltreatment. One third of abused and neglected children in out-of-home care are under age three, many in families with multigenerational trauma. Home visiting & quality child care can prevent child abuse and Early Childhood Courts bring trauma therapy to stop the intergenerational cycle. The First 1000 Days Florida support home visiting and quality childcare to prevent child abuse and expansion of Early Childhood Courts with a dedicated funding source as recommended by Florida TaxWatch.
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: