Early childhood experiences shape future quality of life, including health, economic, emotional, physical and social outcomes. Responsive, nurturing relationships in safe, engaging environments in the earliest years (starting prenatally) are at the foundation of healthy development. Investments, policies and practices that optimize child development are well known, but a gap remains between what we know and what we do. In addition, institutionalized barriers like income, educational inequities, school and neighborhood segregation, and racism, contribute to scores of children not receiving necessary support for achieving their optimal health. This leads to increases in healthcare, education and economic costs for children and families, diminishes parental productivity, and reduces a child’s ability to reach full developmental potential.
Florida has chosen to adopt a racial equity lens in its ECCS Impact work because we believe we cannot improve developmental health outcomes for children, without also addressing the barriers that families and communities face due to institutional and systemic racism. Families of color often face inequities in child care, housing, health care, and education and we believe it is our responsibility as a state and early childhood providers to understand how we can try to change systems that perpetuate disparities. We believe a racially equitable community is one in which the distribution of resources, opportunities, and burdens is not determined or predictable by race and every child receives what they need to live, grow, and thrive.