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Public Policy Issues in Georgia Related to Brain Development

The following are public policy issues and recommendations that stem from our increasing understanding of early brain development, based on recent research findings. Some of these recommendations are specific to Georgia — but many are equally important in other parts of the United States and the world.

 

Health

Healthy Beginnings

  • Reduce births to teens.
  • Ensure access to prenatal care for all pregnant women.
  • Enroll all eligible pregnant women in Right from the Start Medicaid.
  • Ensure access to treatment for all substance-abusing pregnant women throughout the state.
  • Promote cessation of smoking.
  • Ensure that timely family planning services are available to all women throughout the state.
  • Screen mothers of newborns for depression.

Nutrition

  • Enroll all eligible women and children in Women, Infants & Children (WIC) services.
  • Promote breastfeeding of infants for the period of time recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Promote the attainment of good nutritional status for children and their families.

Health Insurance Coverage

  • Ensure that all children have adequate health insurance.
  • Ensure that all parents have adequate health insurance.

Physical and Mental Health

  • Promote children obtaining regular well child health examinations.
  • Promote reading books and playing music to children during contacts with the health care system, including all well-baby health visits.
  • Ensure that all children are adequately immunized.
  • Implement universal child mental health screening.
  • Promote quality, accessible, affordable mental health services for children and their families.

Training and Awareness

  • Integrate brain development information in child birth classes.
  • Integrate brain development information in the curricula used in the training of all health care providers.
  • Integrate brain development information in the curricula used by health educators in teaching the public.
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Safety

  • Support child abuse and neglect prevention.
  • Support family violence prevention.
  • Ensure that victims of child abuse and neglect receive developmental and behavioral screening and receive appropriate services to meet identified needs.
  • Provide all parents of newborns with information about Shaken Infant Syndrome and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
  • Ensure that all children have an appropriate infant, toddler or child safety seat.
  • Promote childhood brain and spinal cord injury prevention.
  • Enhance the training of Child Protective Services workers to include early brain research information, especially as it relates to the effects of child abuse and neglect.
  • Promote Child Protective Services worker caseloads and salaries that meet national standards.
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Caregiving

Parent Care

  • Ensure that all parents of newborns receive information on brain development.
  • Ensure that all parents of newborns have access to home-based services appropriate to their preferences and needs without regard to risk criteria.
  • Ensure that parents have access to parenting education or parenting resources in every community.
  • Enable father/child connections and bonding.

Child Care

  • Ensure that parents have access to quality, accessible, affordable child care throughout the state.
  • Require that staff-to-child ratio standards meet or exceed national ratios.
  • Strengthen regulations governing day care centers.
  • Strengthen standards for family care providers.
  • Strengthen training requirements for child care providers and incorporate information about brain development.
  • Establish a credentialing standard for staff in child care centers.
  • Increase salary and benefits for child care providers to lessen staff turnover.
  • Develop incentives to promote achievement of National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accreditation.
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Early Childhood Education

  • Expand Early Head Start.
  • Promote the enrollment of all eligible three-year-olds in Head Start.
  • Promote the enrollment of all eligible four-year-olds in Head Start or Pre-K.
  • Expand the Even Start Program.
  • Increase the enrollment of children in quality pre-school programs.
  • Establish a bachelor degree in state's colleges and universities with a specialization in 0-5 years.
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Employment and Economic Supports

  • Increase the minimum wage.
  • Increase use of the earned income tax credit.
  • Increase tax incentives for corporations to support employee child care needs and family health insurance.
  • Expand child care tax credits for the working poor.
  • Expand maternity and family leave policies and benefits and include mid-sized and small businesses.
  • Promote workplace policies that support working mothers who choose to breastfeed.
  • Promote welfare policy that ensures that an infant's primary caregiving parent is not required to return to work before the child reaches age three.
  • Reduce the number of births to teens.
  • Ensure implementation of Georgia's Universal Newborn Hearing Screening and Intervention.
  • Implement universal vision screening.
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Public Engagement

  • Promote dissemination of brain development information in the media.
  • Adequately fund the Better Brains for Babies Initiative to continue and fulfill its mission and to build the training network statewide.
  • Enhance the Better Brains for Babies website.
  • Expand the network of advocacy groups supporting early childhood issues.
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Funding

  • Increase funding for early childhood support systems and activities.
  • Increase funding for health promotion and child abuse and neglect prevention.
  • Increase funding for treatment for children who have experienced abuse or neglect.
  • Promote increased funding for the federal Child Care and Development Fund which comes to Georgia through a block. grant administered by the Division of Family and Children Services and the Georgia Child Care Council. Funding. increases must be inclusive of the funds earmarked for quality improvements.
  • Publicize the economic benefits of investing in early childhood.
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The Environment

  • Promote healthy air quality, safe water, and protection from toxins.
  • Promote the development of safe outdoor play space appropriate for young children in every neighborhood.
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Government Systems

  • Promote a comprehensive approach to early childhood development policy.
  • Promote coordination of services and supports to children and families to eliminate redundancies and fill any gaps.
  • Ensure that all programs and services that support children and families have an evaluation component that addresses both how the services were conducted and what outcomes were achieved.
  • Promote opportunities to link issues affecting early childhood development with broader societal concerns, such as economic development, high school completion, adolescent and adult substance abuse and literacy.
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