For America’s Kids to Succeed, Invest in the First Eight Years, says KIDS COUNT

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s latest KIDS COUNT policy report, The First Eight Years: Giving Kids a Foundation for Lifetime Success, presents a strong case for investing in the early years of a child's life. Decades of brain and child development research show that kids who enter kindergarten with below-average language and cognitive skills can catch up — but only if they are physically healthy and have strong social and emotional skills.

The National League of Cities joins the Annie E. Casey Foundation in calling for investments that target a child's first eight years. The latest KIDS COUNT policy report details how a child’s early development is essential to making an effective transition into elementary school and for long-term academic achievement. To prepare all of America’s children to succeed, the report sets forth three broad policy recommendations:

  • Support parents so they can effectively care and provide for their children;
  • Increase access to high-quality birth-through-age-8 programs, beginning with investments that target low-income children; and
  • Develop comprehensive, integrated programs and data systems to address all aspects of children’s development and support their transition to elementary school and related programs for school-age children.

The First Eight Years also features data on early childhood development for every state, the District of Columbia and the nation. Additional information is available in the KIDS COUNT Data Center, which also contains the most recent national, state and local data on hundreds of indicators of child well-being. The Data Center allows users to create rankings, maps and graphs for use in publications and on websites, and to view real-time information on mobile devices.

Details: For a detailed description of efforts in five cities to improve outcomes for children ages 0-8, see Educational Alignment for Young Children: Profiles of Local Innovation published by NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.  For additional information, tools and resources on how cities can promote early childhood development, visit NLC’s website or contact Tonja Rucker at or 202-626-3004.