FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Rashena Flagg, 713.301.4577
Austin – Today three Texas nonprofit organizations announced a new effort to work with the Texas Legislature and other state leaders to increase the number of infants and toddlers who are healthy, supported, and arrive at school ready to learn. While Texas is home to 1 in 10 of our nation’s children, our current policies are not doing enough to support them, as Texas ranks in the bottom 10 for child well-being in the country. Despite the overwhelming evidence that a child’s first three years are critical for brain development and set the foundation for a child’s future, Texas does not invest enough to ensure infants, toddlers, and their families can access the health, education, care, developmental, and other services they need to set them on a path to success.
The new project, called the Texas Prenatal to Three (PN-3) Collaborative, is developing policy solutions to address these challenges. Three of the state’s leading children’s policy advocacy organizations — TexProtects, Texans Care for Children, and Children at Risk — are spearheading the new project. The Collaborative has the backing of over 110 partner organizations across the state. The Pritzker Children’s Initiative has awarded a generous $2.5 million three-year grant to the Texas PN-3 Collaborative in support of the Initiative’s work to increase access to critical education, health, social, developmental, and economic services for low-income infants and toddlers and their families.
COVID-19 has presented immense challenges to Texas families, from job loss or depressed wages to social isolation from support networks of families and friends. Now, more than ever, it is critical to support our youngest Texans and their families and connect them to the resources they need to be safe, stay healthy, and get ready for school.
The Texas PN-3 Collaborative will pursue a strategic agenda, known as The Texas Plan, to increase access to high-quality services for at least 300,000 low-income infants and toddlers and their families by 2026. The Texas Plan builds on and aligns with existing policy efforts and initiatives in the state. The Texas Plan focuses on the following three key areas:
- Increasing the quality of and access to prenatal and postpartum health services for low-income mothers and health services for low-income infants and toddlers.
- Increasing the number of low-income infants and toddlers and their families who are screened and successfully connected to necessary services, such as intensive home visiting or Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) for children under three with disabilities and developmental delays.
- Increasing access to high-quality child care programs serving low-income infants and toddlers.
“Experiences during the first few years of childhood provide the foundation for the rest of our lives,” said Stephanie Rubin, CEO of Texans Care for Children, which is leading the Collaborative’s work on access to health services. “To make sure babies and toddlers get off to a strong start in life, one of the key steps the Legislature needs to take is reducing the uninsured rate for children and mothers.”
“Texas is home to 1.2 million infants and toddlers below the age of three, nearly half of whom are low income,” said Mandi Kimball, Vice President of Children at Risk and Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs. “This grant provides an incredible opportunity to better coordinate and align our early childhood systems to support families and give infants and toddlers the strong foundation they need to thrive later in life.”
“We are truly at the cusp of a PN-3 moment in our state,” explained Sophie Phillips, CEO of TexProtects. “Between the state’s Early Learning Strategic Plan, strong supporters of early childhood in the Texas Capitol, the Texas Early Learning Council, the considerable leadership in community early childhood coalitions, and the Texas PN-3 Collaborative, which acts as an umbrella organization for communities, advocates, and direct service providers, we are confident that we can make a positive impact on the systems and services that support our youngest, and make Texas the best place to be born.”
Texas is one of eleven states selected for funding by the Pritzker Children’s Initiative, as part of a competitive grant process.
About the Pritzker Children’s Initiative (PCI)
The Pritzker Children’s Initiative is a project of the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Foundation focused on increasing the number of young children who arrive in school ready to learn and succeed. More information about PCI can be found at http://pritzkerchildrensinitiative.org/.
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