Our Vision: Investing in Child Development
Children are our future. Not only as parents, but as a community. We know that a child’s brain is malleable and a focus on child development has tremendous individual and societal effects.
Because parental care and stress has lasting impact on a child’s potential, it’s important to not only build a child’s skills but also empower caregivers to support their growth.
Child development is core to Any Baby Can’s vision: A community that empowers parents, prioritizes healthy families and invests in child development. But what does it mean for a community to invest in child development?
Early Experiences Impact the Future
Child development encompasses the physical, social and emotional growth that occurs between birth and adolescence. This is a period of rapid and important brain maturity. Research from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University shows that extreme poverty, abuse and neglect, parental stress or maternal depression can significantly impact a child’s developing brain. On the other hand, the brain is strengthened by positive early experiences, especially stable relationships with caring and responsive adults in safe and supportive environments. (1,2)
It seems obvious but we’re living in a time of increased stress, balancing various priorities while raising children. Any Baby Can serves many clients who are experiencing poverty, have kids with difficult medical diagnoses, or are facing other obstacles in their lives. In order to positively influence a child’s life, both caregivers and the larger community must be informed and committed to investing in child development.
The good news is that research has found that high-quality early intervention services can change a child’s developmental trajectory and improve outcomes for children, families and communities. (1,2)
The First and Most Important Teachers
Parents are a child’s first and most important teachers. To influence a child’s development and life trajectory, we must start in the home. Understanding developmental milestones and available interventions is the first step to success. Key to this is making and keeping child well visits with your pediatrician. Caregivers can also use the Milestones Matter app to keep track of a child’s development and bring concerns to a pediatrician, or directly to an Early Childhood Intervention program.
Through Any Baby Can’s various programs, we implement a parent coaching model that encourages parental involvement and positive parent-child interactions.
In our Nurse-Family Partnership and Healthy and Fair Start programs, we help new moms understand that even while a child is in the womb, a mother can impact their baby’s development. Through our Early Childhood Intervention program, our staff not only work directly with the child, providing speech, occupational and physical therapy, but also teach parents how to work with the child between sessions. Our evidence-based parenting classes use the Nurturing Parenting curriculum to foster positive parenting skills as well as teach appropriate developmental expectations.
How We Invest in Child Development
Any Baby Can’s parent education and child development services focus on children ages zero to five years old, and their parents or caregivers. These are critical years that impact a child’s brain and life-long development(4). Without intervention, negative childhood experiences can perpetuate the very same systemic inequities many of our client families face. We’re working directly with families, one at a time, as well as engaging at the systems level alongside community partners to create policies that advance child development.
For a community to invest in child development would mean ensuring that resources and interventions are available and accessible to families, and that the community is educated on the importance of these early years that shape a child’s future. This is a future we are working towards.
1 Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University (2008). InBrief: The science of early childhood development.
2 Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. (2010). The foundations of lifelong health are built in early childhood.
3 Cannon, J. S., Kilburn, M. R., Karoly, L. A., Mattox, T., Muchow, A. N., & Buenaventura, M. (2018). Investing Early: Taking Stock of Outcomes and Economic Returns from Early Childhood Programs. Rand health quarterly, 7(4), 6.
4 The Importance of Early Intervention for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities and Their Families Accessed February 26, 2015.
Our Vision: Empowering Parents
In gaining confidence, skills and connections, parents are better able to plan for their family’s future.
Our Vision: Prioritizing Healthy Families
Any Baby Can reduces barriers to health services and supports clients in all aspects of whole family well-being.
Mission and Impact
A whole-family approach to creating stability and addressing physical, developmental and emotional well-being.