Child Health & Development

Health Literacy Highlighted (DOCX)

The health information readily available today is not usable by most Americans. Nearly 9 out of 10 adults have limited health literacy and find it difficult to fully use and follow everyday health information. Health literacy is defined as the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions                                                                                                                                                                              


The purpose of this joint statement from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education (ED) (the Departments), is to set a vision for stronger partnerships, collaboration, and coordination between awardees of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Part C Program (IDEA Part C Program). Specifically, this joint statement provides recommendations to States, territories, and tribal entities to identify and enhance opportunities for collaboration and coordination between MIECHV and the IDEA Part C Program.


The purpose of this Policy Statement is to support States and communities in their efforts to better coordinate, align, and enhance health and early learning systems to promote the healthy development, early learning, and well-being of all children from birth to Kindergarten entry in the United States.

Supporting the Development of Young Children in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities Who Are Affected by Alcohol and Substance Exposure

The purpose of this U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) policy statement is to support early childhood programs and tribal communities by providing recommendations that promote the early development of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children, prenatal to age eight, who have been exposed to alcohol or substances during pregnancy, or who are affected by parent or caregiver substance misuse during early childhood.

Autism Awareness and Acceptance

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects about 1 in 68 children in the U.S., with more children being identified than ever before. The early childhood community has a unique opportunity to touch the lives of these children and their families in ways that can make a real difference.

Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive

As many as one in four children through the age of five are at risk for a developmental delay or disability. Early identification allows communities to intervene earlier, leading to more effective and cheaper treatment during the preschool years, rather than expensive special education services in later childhood. Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! is a coordinated federal effort to encourage healthy child development, universal developmental and behavioral screening for children, and support for the families and providers who care for them.

Bridging the Word Gap

Research shows that during the first three years of life, a child from a low-income family hears roughly 30 million fewer total words than his or her more affluent peers. This "word gap" can lead to disparities not just in vocabulary size, but also in school readiness, long-term educational and health outcomes, earnings, and family stability. Learn more about ACF's role in helping bridge the word gap for our youngest children to improve their chances for later success in school and in life.

Caring for Our Children Basics: Health and Safety Foundations for Early Care and Education Settings

Quality early care and education can be achieved with consistent, basic health and safety practices in place. Caring for our Children Basics represents the minimum health and safety standards experts believe should be in place where children are cared for outside of their homes. This set of standards seeks to reduce conflicts and redundancies found in program standards linked to multiple funding streams. Though voluntary, ACF hopes Caring for Our Children Basics will be a helpful resource for states and other entities as they work to improve health and safety standards in licensing and quality rating improvement systems. ACF anticipates Caring for Our Children Basics will support the efficiency and effectiveness of monitoring systems for early care and education settings.

Reducing Suspension and Expulsion Practices in Early Childhood Settings

Expulsion and suspension practices occur at high rates in early learning settings, and at even higher rates for young boys of color. The Departments of Education and Health and Human Services encourage states, early childhood programs, and families to partner in preventing, reducing, and eventually eliminating the expulsion and suspension of young children from early learning programs.

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