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Journal Issue: Caring for Infants and Toddlers Volume 11 Number 1 Spring/Summer 2001

Reports from the Field: Starting Points: State and Community Partnerships for Young Children
Michael H. Levine Susan V. Smith


In 1994, Carnegie Corporation of New York released a report called Starting Points: Meeting the Needs of Our Youngest Children,2 which presented research evidence on a "quiet crisis" confronting children under age three in the United States. The report concluded that "an epidemic of inadvertent neglect" characterized the nation's response to children's fundamental needs, and it launched a challenge to America's pivotal sectors to take action to advance four key goals: preparation for responsible parenthood, improved preventive health care, quality child care, and stronger community planning and supports for young families.

The report received front-page coverage in many newspapers, and its findings contributed to the legislation that established the Early Head Start (EHS) program. (See the article by Fenichel and Mann in this journal issue.) Soon after, the 1994 congressional elections shifted additional responsibility and authority for social policy toward the states, and welfare reform legislation was enacted. Cognizant of these policy trends, Carnegie Corporation developed the Starting Points Initiative, which used both national and site-specific strategies to:

  1. Promote better understanding among policymakers, parents, and the public of the importance of the early childhood years;

  2. Encourage and monitor program and policy innovations in the field of early childhood; and

  3. Support emerging state and local leaders in early childhood education, health, and parent support.

This article offers a brief overview of the initiative and the lessons that have emerged from it.