Why it Matters
The Children’s Movement of Florida aims to help parents offset the effects of toxic stress by advocating for more state investment in high-quality information and support for all families. Parent initiatives like Help Me Grow Florida can help increase their knowledge of child development, provide examples of safe and healthy things to do with children, build skills for managing the rigors of parenting, and provide support in challenging times.
Our Principles for Parent Support in Florida
The love of a parent is unlike anything else. All parents want the best for their children and will do everything they can to give their children what they need to succeed.
However, some parents have so many challenges in their day-to-day lives that it is impossible for them to give their children opportunities for future success. When you are working multiple jobs and struggling to pay your rent and feed your children, it is likely that you have little time at home that isn’t spent preparing food, getting children in bed, and catching a few hours of sleep.
But children’s healthy development is vital to the success of Florida, and it’s in all of our best interests to support parents so they can nurture the next generation.
We know how to create stronger foundations for children’s development. One active ingredient is the “serve and return” relationships that children have with their parents and other caregivers in their family or community. Like the process of serve and return in games such as tennis or volleyball, young children naturally reach out for interaction through babbling and facial expressions. If adults do not respond by getting in sync and doing the same kind of vocalizing and gesturing back at them, the child’s learning process is incomplete. This has negative implications for later learning.
When we don’t attend to these important aspects of development now, there are serious consequences later. Trying to change behavior or build new skills on a foundation of brain circuits that were not wired properly when they were first formed requires more work and is less effective. This means we need to invest in the kinds of programs that affect child well-being early on, because remedial education, clinical treatment and other professional interventions are more costly and produce less desirable outcomes than the provision of nurturing, protective relationships and appropriate learning experiences earlier in life.
The Children’s Movement of Florida wants to ensure access to information and resources about developmental milestones and high-quality early learning opportunities for Florida parents.
The longer a child goes without helpful intervention, the more difficult it can be for that child in school and life.
We need to act faster. As many as one-half of American children with a developmental delay will not be identified by the time they enter kindergarten, even though most will show mild developmental delays by two years of age.
Parent support programs like Help Me Grow Florida teach parents the developmental stages and help them identify possible delays. In an independent study conducted by Florida State University, Help Me Grow Florida found that every dollar invested in their program returns $7.62 per year.
This means more of the one in six children who have one or more developmental delay will get the care they need in this crucial development period.
If we can help parents learn the signs and act early, we will shepherd an additional 8% of Florida children through their developmental delays and help them succeed in school and in life.
This effort will be returned to society. Estimates indicate that early screening and treatment of children with developmental and behavioral delays can save $30,000 to $100,000 per child over the long run.
The Children’s Movement of Florida wants to prioritize economic self-sufficiency for families by implementing a gradual reduction of child care and family benefits and eliminating abrupt cuts as family income increases.
Chronic stressful conditions such as extreme poverty, abuse, or severe maternal depression—what scientists now call “toxic stress”—can disrupt the architecture of the developing brain.
We know that family circumstances such as poverty and accompanying toxic stress impact children’s ability to reach their full potential. If we help the family manage stressors, we know their children will reap the rewards for the rest of their life.
Children don’t grow up in a vacuum. Their family circumstances affect their brain development. We need to support the family so they can support the child.
Toxic stress can lead to lifelong difficulties in learning, memory and self-regulation. Children who are exposed to serious early stress develop an exaggerated stress response that, over time, weakens their defense system against disease, from heart disease to diabetes and depression. We must take steps to minimize children’s exposure to toxic stress and offer help to children in these situations to buffer this stress and make it more manageable.
For more visit our Partner Content page.
- The Impact of Family Involvement on the Education of Children Ages 3 to 8 – MDRC. A report that discusses the vital role that family involvement has on the development of their children’s reading, math, and social skills.
- The Science of Neglect: The Persistent Absence of Responsive Care Disrupts the Developing Brain – National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. Defines Neglect and explains how and why it negatively impacts a child’s development.
- The Influence of Parenting on Early Childhood Health and Health Care Utilization – Journal of Pediatric Psychology. This journal article discusses the impact of parenting practices on children’s health and healthcare.
- Parenting and Outcomes for Children – Joseph Rowntree Foundation. This review provides an insight into different parenting theories and how the parent-child relationship impacts a child’s social outcomes.
- Special Kids, Special Parents, Special Education – University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform. This report details the hardships that the parents of children with disabilities often face when attempting to ensure that their children receive the education that they need while also highlighting possible solutions that can be pursued.
Disclaimer: These links to third-party websites are provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. They do not constitute an endorsement or approval by The Children’s Movement of Florida or its affiliate organizations and partners.