Early Childhood

Playing with block

Transforming Early Childhood Systems

The first few years of life set the stage for a child’s future. Experiences during early childhood (prenatal to kindergarten) inform social, emotional and cognitive development, as well as overall health, determining early in life whether a child is set up to reach his or her optimal health.

Knowing the great impact investments and interventions can have at this critical stage of development, NICHQ is working through various projects and partnerships, to mobilize diverse sectors—including families, communities and policymakers—to transform early childhood systems to ultimately improve health outcomes for young children nationwide.

Keep scrolling, or use these quick links, to learn more.

Fast Facts | Current InitiativesVirtual Community | Related Content | Partners | News

Fast Facts

Social Determinants of Health
Children's health during their early years often depends on the circumstances in which they are born. Access to good schools, housing, food, community supports - all of these determinants affect children's health and development. Learn more about how social determinants of health affect health equity.   

Two-Generation Approaches:
When families struggle because of environmental circumstances, such as their job, community or economic status, children's health also suffers. A two-generation approach acknowledges that parent and child health are intertwined and seeks to address the needs of the family holistically. NICHQ's CEO discusses how here. Or, watch this video that explains why two-generation approaches can have a big impact on early childhood outcomes. 

Developmental Screening
Children should have three developmental screenings before they reach their third birthday.These screenings assess whether children are meeting their developmental milestones, prompt proactive interventions and help all children start school ready to succeed. Find out more in this webinar, or read about one state's developmental screening journey

Supports for Parents and Caregivers: 
Parents lay the groundwork for their children's future. That's why we're invested in helping families understand how important early childhood development is, what resources they can tap, and what actions they can take. Learn more about a powerful state system that empowers parents, or read an article about how to launch an early childhood parent academy in your community. 

Our Initiatives

NICHQ has three current initiatives focused on different aspects of early childhood systems. Click each headline below to visit a page with more details about the project.

Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (ECCS CoIIN)

A multiyear initiative to improve early childhood service systems in 12 states and 28 place-based communities to increase age-appropriate developmental skills among 3-year-old children and reduce developmental disparities.

Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes: Developmental Impact of NICU Exposures

An initiative studying the long-term effects of environmental exposures on children who are treated in neonatal intensive care units.

Early Childhood Health Equity Landscape: Learning from Existing and Emerging Initiatives

This project seeks to assess, summarize, and catalogue multisector initiatives that support more effective and equitable early childhood systems. 


Join Our Virtual Community

The Collaboratory is a virtual place where ECCS CoIIN participants and stakeholders can share ideas and best practices, ask questions, and uncover useful tips to advance their change efforts. With an "all teach, all learn" and "steal shamelessly" philosophy, NICHQ is opening up the Collaboratory to anyone working to enhance early childhood systems.

Already a member? Log-in here.

Want to join? Fill out this form to request access.

Partners in Collaboration

To transform early childhood systems—as opposed to implementing individual interventions—requires collaboration from a host of traditional and nontraditional partners. Below are organizations we are proud to call our partners in this important work. Click the links below to learn more about each organization's work in early childhood. Email us at [email protected], or complete the form below, to learn how you can get involved.


Partner With Us

Are you interested in using these changes ideas to improve children’s health in a population, state or healthcare setting? Contact to NICHQ to discuss:

  • Opportunities to identify partners and strategies to get partner buy-in
  • Tools used to track data and enhance collaboration
  • Training on consistent messaging and counseling

From supporting individual organizations to national programs, NICHQ’s vast change management experience helps us customize the best solution for you.