We all benefit when a child receives a strong start in life. Policymakers now recognize that investments in a child's first years will pay dividends for society throughout the rest of the child's life.
Yet one in ten infants in Illinois lives in deep poverty, facing obstacles to healthy development from the first breath. Children born into poor families are at higher risk of trauma, poor nutrition, housing insecurity, and inadequate healthcare, all of which can harm an infant's growing brain. These risks are compounded for children of color.
The ill effects of poverty on our most vulnerable children can be alleviated by effective programs that promote healthy development from before birth through the critical early years. To lay the foundation for a fair chance to reach their potential, children born into poverty must have equitable opportunities to participate in high-quality early childhood education and care from birth.