We must support breastfeeding in our state, not as a separate women's issue, but as a public health and human issue.
Right From The Start, babies who are not breastfed are at a disadvantage. Breastfeeding must be given priority and must be interwoven into other programs and initiatives to help every child reach their potential: physically, emotionally, immunologically and cognitively.
Preschool for all should be a priority. Children are already behind by the time they get to Kindergarten.
Parents must understand that brain development begins before birth, and that interacting with infants and young children is an important step in making sure that children are ready for school. We must work with parents to make sure they have the right resources to support healthy brain development. This can be done with proper education for parents in how to interact with their infants, and how to choose high quality childcare.
Addressing ACEs and lessening the impact of both kinds: Adverse Childhood Experiences and Adverse Community Environments is paramount. The social determinants of health that impact health outcomes must be addressed. I am a Preschool Nurse in Camden and I see not only the impact of toxic stress on our preschool children but also on the families. In one of the 5 Preschools that I serve, more than 55% of the 75 children enrolled do not live with both parents, these are 3 &4-year-olds. The issues mount every day, we see behavioral concerns, environmental stress, unemployment, under-employment, safety issues, housing and food insecurities. These and many more impacts our infants, toddlers, pre-schoolers and sets a trajectory in their lives that is nearly impossible to overcome.
Make a conscious decision to address and prioritize infant and toddler nutrition through a publicity campaign and additional funding for infant/toddler-friendly foods to include in the current SFPP program. Provide food banks, soup kitchens and shelters with easy to use food guides for families with infants and toddlers. Create a training program for food bank, soup kitchen and shelter personnel that they can then use when they are purchasing food and also with their client families. The training should include what foods to stock that promote early childhood development, how to guide clients in food selection and preparation based on what the agency is providing.
"Longer paid maternity leave for parents. My child is going to daycare at age 12 weeks so I can return to work. It’s sad that during her most critical time of development I have to pay someone else to take care of her. Unfortunately, our household can’t survive on one paycheck. We can barely afford daycare (it’s like paying a second mortgage)."