Community Development and Early Childhood: Partnering for Better Outcomes

A growing body of research provides evidence that the places where children live, learn, and play have a significant impact on their health and development. Early childhood advocates increasingly recognize the importance of these community determinants of health and are paying more attention to the housing, neighborhood, and community conditions in which families are raising young children. At the same time, housing and community development professionals recognize families with young children as an important population and are finding ways to support them, such as by providing or connecting them to needed services, or by improving housing stock to promote safe and healthy development of their youngest residents that contribute to outcomes such as kindergarten readiness in their communities.

From 2019-2020, Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) and NeighborWorks convened an Action Lab of NeighborWorks members and their early childhood counterparts in communities that are part of CSSP’s Early Childhood Learning and Innovation Network for Communities (EC-LINC). Five affordable housing and community development organizations teamed up with early childhood leaders in four communities across the country to carry out projects at the intersection of community development and child development. The local partners and their projects are:

  • Urban Edge and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, Boston, MA: Two-generational approach to school readiness
  • Community Partners of South Florida & Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach, Palm Beach, FL: Home repairs and code enforcement remediation for families, and access to family support services
  • East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) and First 5 Alameda County, Alameda, CA: Strengthen early childhood education and resource hub at the Family Resource Center
  • Eden Housing and First Five Alameda County, Alameda, CA: Access to quality parent support programs and parent engagement in affordable housing
  • Mutual Housing Association of Greater Hartford and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Hartford, CT: Improved housing conditions to improve child health

We are pleased to release a report summarizing the projects they carried out—including the adaptations they had to make when the COVID-19 crisis began—and lessons learned, along with recommendations to guide others who are looking for ways to improve outcomes for young children and their families by partnering across these two fields. Find the report here.

Join us for a webinar on Thursday, January 14, from 3:00-4:00 ET, to hear more about this project and the lessons learned! Register here.