Preschool children clapping.

National Collaborative for Infants and Toddlers

Ensuring that young children are on track for school by age three

What We Work For

We put young children on a path to future success by supporting their needs prenatally to age three.

Research consistently shows that the most rapid period of brain development is in the first years of life, when a baby’s brain forms more than a million new neural connections every second. This cognitive, social, and emotional growth is critical for later success in school and the workplace. Despite this crucial time in a child’s development, each year an estimated three million children across the US risk arriving at Kindergarten without the cognitive, social, and emotional skills they need to learn and be successful throughout school and in life.

How We Do It

The National Collaborative for Infants and Toddlers (NCIT) is a specialized effort designed to ensure that young children are developmentally on track for school by age three.

We work directly with 10 of our Early Childhood Learning and Innovation Network for Communities (EC-LINC) members on prenatal- to-three topics, equipping them with the tools they need to focus on maternal and child health, family support, and early care and education. Participants are developing resources to strengthen early childhood systems and are sharing best practices with other cities, counties, and states within EC-LINC and beyond. In addition, they are working to drive policies and make the case for public and private investment in core services for infants and toddlers.


This network functions as a learning laboratory where communities exchange ideas, learn, and problem solve together.

The overall goal of NCIT is to increase the number of children who are developmentally on track for kindergarten. We work to achieve this by supporting women’s prenatal needs as well as child development from birth to age three. Communities in the NCIT network address this task in a variety of ways, including:

  • Focusing on reducing black infant mortality rates.
  • Addressing homelessness among pregnant women.
  • Increasing coaching, supports, and resources for family child care providers.
  • Increasing culturally developmental screenings and appropriate referral and linkages services for children of color, including immigrants and refugees.

Using our Prenatal to Three Outcomes Framework, communities work to achieve optimal maternal and child health, strong family supports, and high-quality early care and education.

NCIT communities seek ambitious policy changes and will attempt to reach 50 percent of local children at-risk of not being developmentally on track for kindergarten by age three within the next few years.  

NCIT Communities

The 10 EC-LINC communities participating in the National Collaborative for Infants and Toddlers are:

  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Guilford County, North Carolina
  • Los Angeles County, California
  • Kent County, Michigan
  • Multnomah County, Oregon
  • Orange County, California
  • Onondaga County, New York
  • Ventura County, California
  • Volusia and Flagler Counties, Florida