Cities Supporting a Strong Prenatal to Age 3 Agenda

Prenatal to Age 3
Prenatal to Age 3

When supported during their earliest years, infants grow into healthy kids who are ready for school and life. The most rapid period of brain develop occurs within the first three years of life. Responsive relationships and positive experiences early in life build a sturdy brain architecture that becomes the foundation for core social emotional skills, early executive functioning and self-regulatory skills, and literacy skills—skills that are all critical for later health and success.

 In 2018 the National League of Cities (NLC) -- through its Institute for Youth Education and Families (YEF Institute) with generous support from the Pritzker Children’s Initiative -- launched Cities Supporting a Strong Prenatal to Age 3 Agenda. The project offers city leaders guidance and support to establish and strengthen prenatal to age 3 strategies to achieve better outcomes for our nation’s children.

City leaders understand that positive cognitive, social and emotional experiences during the prenatal period and the first three years of life are critical for children to have a good start in life and for long-term success. Over time, children who do not thrive during these early years are at greater risk of health and developmental problems over the course of their lives. These problems place added strains on health and social service systems and result in more school dropouts, increases in juvenile and adult crime, and increased unemployment. In order to foster vibrant communities, all key stakeholders must prepare children to succeed long before they enter kindergarten. These early efforts, in turn, help children enter school ready to learn and set the course for successful life experiences.

NLC and PCI seek to dramatically increase the number of children ready for kindergarten. Through Cities Supporting a Strong Prenatal to 3 Agenda, NLC’s goal is to establish a network of cities committed to supporting infants, toddlers, and their families and providing practical assistance to mayors, city councilmembers, senior city staff and their community partners to improve their capacity to implement effective PN-3 strategies and increase kindergarten readiness. 

The first cohort of cities selected for this project included: Austin, Texas; Baltimore, Maryland; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Cleveland, Ohio, Denver, Colorado, and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Upon the completion of a successful first year, NLC seeks to invite an additional three cities to join the initiative.

NLC is a proud partner of PCI’s, National Collaborative for Infants and Toddlers (NCIT).  NCIT is a network of national partners working across the country to build programs and policies that work to ensure children are on track or success in school and life by age 3.