The first three years of life are the ‘brick and mortar’ of brain development, setting the foundation for all learning. During this time, the brain develops at a speed faster than at any other point later in life. Though they play the lead role, parents are often stretched in these earliest months and years, but they do not have to do it alone. Local leaders can help by creating promising practices, policies, and programs that assist parents and the community in supporting the healthy development of young children.

The National League of Cities (NLC)’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families offer municipal leaders guidance and support to establish and strengthen local prenatal-to-age 3 (PN-3) strategies to help our nation’s children achieve better outcomes.

State and Local Government PN-3 Collaboration in Action

Local and state governments can influence what resources and opportunities are available in communities for residents which can have a real impact on the lives of infants, toddlers, and their families.

As the COVID-19 pandemic cast new light on existing economic and social inequities affecting millions across the U.S., coordination of efforts will be key as the country aims to work towards an equitable recovery. Local and state governments can effectively provide parents and communities support during these critical and stressful times.

In the spirit of this drive towards efficiency and cooperation, the National League of Cities (NLC), National Association of Counties Research Foundation (NACoRF), and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) have teamed up to develop the State and Local Government Prenatal to Three Collaboration in Action Series. The series will help local leaders identify common challenges and actionable strategies to strengthen alignments between city, county, and state governments in support of a prenatal through age three agenda for families in their communities.

The State and Local Government Prenatal to Three Collaboration in Action series will consist of three virtual conversations in 2021:

  • Fireside Chat led by NLC in March highlighted how the collective role of government is crucial in drumming up public support for advancing prenatal to three efforts as the country responds to and recovers from COVID-19 and reforms systems with young children in mind.
  • Roundtable led by NACoRF in the summer will support state and local coordination on PN-3 by bringing state, county, and city leaders together on expanding PN-3 policy, programs, and systems statewide and within respective local jurisdictions.
  • Intergovernmental Coordinating Conversation led by NCSL in the fall will connect policymakers from state, county, and city levels to explore potential coordinated legislative efforts to establish programs, services and systems supporting all young children and their families.

In 2022 the series will expand to a combination of in-person and virtual events.

Cities Supporting a Strong PN-3 Agenda

Launched in 2017 to examine the important role that local leaders play in giving children and families the supports, they need to thrive, NLC’s Cities Supporting a Strong Prenatal to Age 3 Agenda is now working to dramatically increase the number of young children ready for kindergarten. NLC has established a network of cities committed to supporting infants, toddlers, and their families by providing practical assistance to local elected officials, their senior staff, and their community partners in implementing effective PN-3 strategies and increase kindergarten readiness.

The first cohort of cities in Cities Supporting a Strong PN-3 Agenda included: Austin, Texas; Baltimore, Md.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Cleveland, Ohio; Denver, Colo.; and Minneapolis, Minn. Followed by three additional adjunct cities: Atlanta, Ga.; Fort Worth, Texas; and Saint Paul, Minn.

The Institute for Youth Education and families is a proud partner of the National Collaborative for Infants and Toddlers (NCIT). Committed to advancing policies and programs that ensure families have the support they need to give their infants and toddlers the foundation for a strong start in life. This work is funded through the Pritzker Children’s Initiative (PCI).

Related Resources

Learn more

To learn more about NLC’s work around Early Childhood Success contact our team at the Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.