Early Childhood Birth to Five
The early years of a child’s life are critical because this is a period of exponential growth and development in all areas. Environment and experiences with caregivers during this period greatly impact health and well-being throughout life. Early and prolonged exposure to trauma or stress increases the risk of lifelong physical health issues, cognitive functioning, and social-emotional well-being. It is imperative for children and family serving agencies to be well attuned to the unique needs and rapid development of young children who have experienced maltreatment or trauma, especially those who are placed in foster care.
In California, children age five and under, especially infants, enter foster care at disproportionately higher rates than older children and unfortunately spend longer time in care. Therefore, the system needs to be prepared to intervene with comprehensive supports for early development, including the support of nurturing, responsive relationships in committed family homes. Fortunately, this period of development for young children also offers a window of immense opportunity to promote resiliency and ultimately change the trajectory of young children involved with child welfare services.
Utilizing a Continuous Quality Improvement model, the department will continually analyze data to support and advocate for the needs of this population.