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April 2008Vol. 9, No. 3Supporting Early Care and Education Programs to Prevent Child Maltreatment

Evidence indicates that high-quality early childhood education programs that feature significant parent involvement have the potential to be an effective child abuse prevention strategy. A new report from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) presents an overview of effective programs across the country and discusses the role that State policymakers can play in supporting the development of these programs.

The report, Protecting the Youngest: The Role of Early Care and Education in Preventing and Responding to Child Maltreatment, cites research showing that early childhood programs can do much to prevent child maltreatment by promoting five key protective factors: parental resilience, social connections, knowledge of parenting and child development, concrete support in times of need, and children's healthy social and emotional development.

The report discusses the role of State policymakers in supporting the development of effective family supports in early childhood programs. Actions that policymakers can take in this effort include:

  • Recognizing early care and education as promising family strengthening strategies
  • Integrating a family strengthening approach into laws and policies that regulate early childhood licensing, training, professional development, reimbursement, and strategic planning
  • Strengthening the links between early childhood programs and the child welfare system

The report was written by Steve Christian and Julie Poppe and is available on the NCSL website: (PDF - 239 KB)