CSSP provides technical assistance and support to states as they develop and implement anti-racist, upstream, support and prevention strategies focused on children PN-3 and their families. CSSP is supporting states as they align their PN-3 strategies across initiatives so that they have a comprehensive PN-3 plan.
CSSP works with jurisdictions to help develop cross-system teams focused on the health and well-being of children PN-3 and their families, identify strategies to ensure children and families have the supports they need, and prevent involvement with child welfare systems, align ongoing prevention activities in jurisdictions to leverage existing resources and partnerships, and develop a PN-3 plan – an ongoing and future commitment to supporting young children and families.
To help guide this work, CSSP uses Supporting the First 1,000 Days of A Child’s Life: An Anti-Racist Blueprint for Early Childhood Well-Being and Child Welfare Prevention (Blueprint) as a technical assistance framework to support systems integration, development of an equity focused prevention continuum, and an integrated financing framework specific to PN-3. The Blueprint provides states and communities, specifically early childhood system leaders and early childhood-serving community-based organizations, with principles, strategies, and guiding questions to advance efforts to build and enhance a continuum of supports for children PN-3 and their caregivers.
The Blueprint offers an anti-racist approach for ensuring that states and communities involved in PN-3 efforts focus on strengthening families and reducing the likelihood of child welfare involvement, transforming programmatic and policy aspects of the child welfare system, and developing systems that employ a full continuum of supports which include:
- Universal supports and strategies (primary prevention) that are responsive to the needs of all children and families,
- Specific supports (secondary prevention) for children and families who experience additional factors such as poverty, and
- Targeted supports (tertiary prevention) for children who become known to deeper-end public systems like child welfare.
District of Columbia—DC Child and Family Services Agency, Children’s National Hospital
Nebraska—First Five Nebraska, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services
New Jersey—Advocates for Children of New Jersey, New Jersey Department of Children and Families
New Mexico—New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department, New Mexico Children, Youth & Families Department, Growing Up New Mexico
South Carolina—South Carolina Infant Mental Health Association, South Carolina Department of Social Services, Institute for Child Success, Children’s Trust of South Carolina
In 2021, CSSP published Supporting the First 1,000 Days of A Child’s Life: An Anti-Racist Blueprint for Early Childhood Well-Being and Child Welfare Prevention (Blueprint), based on CSSP’s experience and lessons learned working with local and state PN-3 initiatives and child welfare systems and communities and extensive research including interviews with early childhood and child welfare experts, advocates and systems leaders in nine states and jurisdictions with PN-3 coalitions supported by PCI.
The Blueprint includes:
- Guiding principles that must be in place to successfully implement comprehensive strategies that advance health and well-being, and prevent abuse or neglect for children PN-3;
- A discussion of strategies and state examples that contribute to this continuum by providing universal, specific, or targeted supports;
- Guiding questions for states and communities looking to engage in the process of building or enhancing a continuum of supports; and
- Potential federal funding streams that are available to finance efforts along the continuum.
Through this work, CSSP and select jurisdictions are working to operationalize elements of this Blueprint in support of children’s first 1,000 days, with the goal of building a continuum of supports that promotes the health and well-bring of children PN-3 and prevents their involvement in child welfare. The guiding principles from the Blueprint have helped to steer state efforts to:
- Establish a shared vision and clear goals for implementation and goals the state, county, or community is working to achieve for PN-3 children and their caregivers;
- Partner across systems to break down silos in order to increase communication, share data, and leverage financing mechanisms;
- Promote community-driven strategies through meaningful engagement with families and communities to identify gaps and develop and implement strategies to address them;
- Establish a space for ongoing communication and idea generation to review existing strategies, identify gaps in the continuum, and continue to ensure coordination in initiatives and funding across systems;
- Take advantage of all opportunities to advance anti-racist strategies to transform the way systems and communities support children and families of color;
- Utilize data and continuous quality improvement processes to guide equity-driven decision-making about service development and implementation, by disaggregating data by race, ethnicity, and other key factors to help communities and state identify gaps and make targeted investments that are culturally-responsive and meet the needs of young children and families of color;
- Recognize that children are part of a family, by advancing multi-generational approaches that meet the needs of both children and their parents or caregivers; and,
- Implement multiple approaches and recognize this work requires a long-term commitment, by increasing buy-in and promoting stability across leadership transitions to continually show the importance of an anti-racist approach to providing supports.
While jurisdictions have used these principles and other elements of the Blueprint as a guide, the structure and administration of a prevention continuum looks different from place to place and system to system, as they adapt their work to the local context to meet the needs of children PN-3 and their families.
The “Toolkit: Operationalizing the Blueprint” shows how jurisdictions have used the guiding principles in the Blueprint as they advance equity and anti-racist strategies to build and enhance their prevention continuum.
This section shows how several jurisdictions have used the guiding principles in the Blueprint as they advance equity and anti-racist strategies to build and enhance their prevention continuum.
Establish a Shared Vision and Clear Goals
Site Example: New Mexico
To effectively advance equity, equity must be part of a shared vision and embedded clearly in the goals of the work. To truly promote a comprehensive, anti-racist continuum, it is critical that all partners—state, county, and community-based organizations—establish a shared vision for implementation and clear goals related to what the state, county, or community is working to achieve for children PN-3 and their caregivers. In this way, each system and community partner can clearly identify how their work fits into the broader vision, where there are opportunities for partnership, and where there are gaps that must be filled to achieve the vision and goals. The vision also serves as a mechanism of accountability to ensure that as the work moves forward, it centers equity.
In New Mexico, early childhood leaders, advocates, and providers developed an equity toolkit to guide their work. Released by The New Mexico Prenatal-to-three Coalition, these Guiding Principles for Equity are intended as a set of tools to address racial, economic, linguistic, and other inequities in the PN-3 system.
Rebecca Riley, an early childhood and Tribal home visiting consultant, discusses the inspiration for these guiding principles, the process stakeholders followed to develop them, how they are being implemented throughout New Mexico, and advice for any state considering developing a shared vision and clear goals.
Coming Soon: 5 in 5 Video
Promote Community-Driven Strategies Through Meaningful Engagement with Families and Communities
Site Example: District of Columbia
Promoting well-being and preventing child welfare involvement for young children requires the meaningful engagement of families and communities to identify gaps and develop and implement strategies to address them. This means engaging families in the information gathering, decision-making, and implementation processes. For child welfare systems engaged with families and communities, building trust is a crucial first step. This principle is founded in the belief that families and communities are the experts in their needs. For families, increasing their involvement in decision-making about services means investments will be more responsive to their needs.
In the District of Columbia, the DC Child and Family Services Agency is engaging and supporting individuals with lived experience in the child welfare system through the Lived Experience Advisory Council (LEAC).
Leonora Hansford, Community Services Program Supervisor at CFSA, discusses the goals of the LEAC, lessons learned from recruiting community members to be a part of it, future plans for the LEAC, and advice for any state child welfare system considering developing an advisory council of individuals with lived experience and expertise.
Coming Soon: 5 in 5 Video