State Health Improvement Plan 2019-2023

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“The highest rate of return in early childhood development comes from investing as early as possible, from birth through age five, in disadvantaged families. Starting at age three or four is too little too late, as it fails to recognize that skills beget skills in a complementary and dynamic way. Efforts should focus on the first years for the greatest efficiency and effectiveness. The best investment is in quality early childhood development from birth to five for disadvantaged children and their families.” —James J. Heckman, PhD, Nobel Prize Winner in Economics

The early years are critical, because this is the period in life when the brain develops most rapidly and has a high capacity for change, and the foundation is laid for health and wellbeing throughout life. Since 80% of the brain develops in the first three years of life, helping to promote healthy children, families and communities during this critical period is central to lifelong health. It is essential that every child and family in Vermont is connected to the kinds of help that can make a real difference in a child’s health, development and ability to learn. 

Early detection and connection to services lead to the best outcomes for children with developmental or behavioral challenges. But too often, children don’t get connected to services they need at an early age when the benefit of those services is greatest. Many initiatives in Vermont provide services to young children, but families, child health providers, early care and education providers and others don’t always know these programs exist or how to connect with them.

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