Early childhood is a critical period that determines a person’s ability to reach his or her lifelong health, social, and economic potential. Comprehensive early childhood well-being—which consists of physical and mental health, cognitive functioning, and social and emotional development—has strong links to long-term outcomes such as educational attainment, annual income, and mental health. Research shows that there are significant economic benefits to ensuring young children receive the care they need. Therefore, a comprehensive early childhood health and education system is a crucial component of determining our nation’s future.
Success will require states to integrate their approach to all these services and increase efficiency in the use of funds across the board. We’ve identified 14 elements that states can strengthen to support early childhood development, and the dashboard below provides an overview of how states are making progress within the dimensions of overall enablers, physical health, cognitive function, and social and emotional health.