Policy Statement to Support the Alignment of Health and Early Learning SystemsMS
The purpose of this Policy Statement is to support States and communities in their efforts to better
coordinate, align, and enhance health1 and early learning systems2 to promote the healthy development,
early learning, and well-being of all children from birth to Kindergarten entry in the United States. This
statement is intended for State and local policy-makers and administrators of systems, agencies, and
programs responsible for children’s health, social-emotional development, and early learning to
understand their role and take steps to improve the integration of services for young children.
The first years of life build the foundation for life-long health and wellness, educational achievement and
economic security. A child’s health directly affects her or his ability to learn, grow, and thrive. Similarly,
high-quality early learning opportunities for children have long-term positive impacts on their health,
even into adulthood. Access to quality healthcare, nutrition, safe environments, and stable, nurturing, and
stimulating relationships with parents and caregivers are each critical to building a strong early childhood
Too often our health care and early learning systems operate in silos, missing key opportunities to
maximize both the health and early learning outcomes of children. Coordination and alignment between
health systems and early learning systems have the potential to help ensure that each child’s needs are
identified, referrals to needed services are made and completed, services are not duplicated, and the
messages that families hear are clear, aligned, and consistently reinforced to ensure that children and their
families thrive. Recent advancements in health care access and service delivery, coupled with increased public investment in early learning provide an opportunity to more comprehensively address how our
health and early learning systems work together to address children’s needs. This statement provides
policy and program recommendations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
and the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to improve young childrens’ access to needed services and
transform service delivery systems to improve the health and early learning outcomes for all children.
This joint policy statement aims to:
- Highlight the importance of aligning and coordinating early childhood health and early learning
systems so that together they establish a solid foundation for school-readiness as well as long-
term health for all children.
- Provide recommendations and guidance to States and communities to promote the alignment and
coordination of health and early learning systems.
- Identify resources and share promising practices that inform and support States, communities, and
families in collaborative efforts to provide a foundation for healthy development and well-being
in early childhood.
Source: U.S Department of Health and Human Services (2020). Policy Statement to support the alignment of health and early learning systems.