Getting Curious About Babies: The 2022 Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap

By: Lynanne Gutierrez, Chief Policy & Operating Officer

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We are grateful to the Prental-to-3 Policy Impact Center who has done the difficult work of undertaking a rigorous review of research to identify what state policies effectively support babies and their families. The Center has identified which state policies best support and strengthen the earliest years of the developing brain and body, and have the largest impact on improving the health and well-being of infants and toddlers, and their parents.

Recently, the Center released its third annual Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap outlining five policies and six strategies proven to create optimal health and development for children. When combined, the policies and strategies create a system of care that provides broad-based economic and family supports, as well as targeted interventions to address identified needs.

The five Roadmap policies include:

  • Expanded income eligibility for health insurance,

  • Reduced administrative burden for SNAP,

  • Paid family leave of at least 6 weeks,

  • A state minimum wage of at least $10, and

  • A refundable state EITC.

The six Roadmap strategies include:

  • Comprehensive screening and connection programs,

  • Child care subsidies,

  • Group prenatal care,

  • Evidence-based home visiting programs,

  • Early Head Start, and

  • Early Intervention services.


Additionally, a new feature of the Roadmap is the 2022 Roadmap Simulation: Same Family, Different Resources to investigate what level of resources a single parent with an infant and a toddler in Ohio has to provide for their children based on the state policy decisions that have been made.


The 2022 Roadmap shows that few states are doing all they can, but laudable progress was made by many. But what can we learn from Ohio’s roadmap? I encourage you to explore all of these data, but want to share one of the learnings I had in exploring the roadmap about comprehensive screening and connection programs – a newer evidence-based strategy for our state.


These programs use screening tools to identify the needs of children and families and connect them to targeted programs and services – the “connective tissue” between all the critical programs and services children and families need and the families themselves. Ohio has experimented some with one of these evidence-based models called Healthy Steps, which embeds a child developmental specialist into the pediatric care setting to support parents’ knowledge and behaviors to advance the growth of their children.


DULCE (Developmental Understanding and Legal Collaboration for Everyone) is another evidence-based program that is based in the pediatric care setting other states have engaged.


Given our strong network of hospitals in Ohio, however, I am getting curious about the Family Connects model as a potential new strategy. It is a community-wide nurse home visiting program that offers nurse home visits to every new parent. The nurse assesses and responds to the family’s specific needs and connects them with resources. While each experience is different, giving birth and becoming a parent is a universal challenge for every new parent. This model holds the possibility of supporting every new parent with the support that they identify they need and want. If you share my curiosity about this program, please connect with me at lgutierrez@groundworkohio.org.