Our Work

Advance Policy

Using Policy Levers to Expand and Sustain
Early Relational Health

Our Policy Agenda

Public policy is a key lever for removing barriers, promoting opportunities, and expanding and sustaining practices for Early Relational Health.

The Early Relational Health policy goals are designed to create strong, positive, and nurturing relationships and environments for young children in the context of their cultural traditions and communities. Through our policy agenda, we call on policymakers at all levels to:

  • Advance equity in the design of all policies.
  • Support family economic security and mobility for two-generational success, including paid family leave, the child tax credit, and assistance to address insufficient food, housing, income, and other concrete needs.
  • Ensure providers serving families are trained in ERH principles and best practices, including anti-racist and anti-bias training approaches.
  • Scale up and sustain evidence-based interventions and community system innovations that promote ERH.
  • Develop a diverse and well-trained relational workforce, including community health workers, doulas, home visitors, and others.
  • Advance high-performing medical homes using team-based, family-driven approaches, with relational care coordination.
  • Increase access to maternal, infant, and early childhood mental health, beginning prenatally and including promotion, prevention, and treatment for parents and children together.
  • Strengthen early childhood systems in communities, with linkages and coordination among health, family support, early care and education, home visiting, early intervention, mental health, housing, child welfare, and other services and informal supports.
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ERH Policy Workgroup

The nation’s leading child and family policy organizations have yet to come together on a coordinated ERH policy agenda. There is an opportunity to maximize their efforts on shared priorities, while leveraging the many bilateral relationships among the organizations. We are creating a policy workgroup to create a policy agenda that can help our systems prioritize ERH.

  • Patsy Hampton, Senior Associate and Director, EC-LINC, Center for the Study of Social Policy

  • Shadi Houshyar, Senior Associate, Center for the Study of Social Policy

  • Karen Howard, JD, Partner, Crossover Partners

  • Kay Johnson, President of Johnson Group Consulting Inc.

  • Annika List, Program & Research Assistant, Center for the Study of Social Policy

  • Dayna Long, MD, Primary Care Pediatrician at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland

  • Geoff Nagle, MSW, MPH, PhD, Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Tulane University; Founder, Alliance Strategic Advising and Research

  • Hoda Shawky, RN, MSN, Pediatric Clinical and Maternal/Early Childhood Consultant

  • David Willis, MD, FAAP, Senior Fellow, Center for the Study of Social Policy

Advocacy Materials Development and Dissemination

Policy is often shaped by advocates seizing timely opportunities to highlight their cause. The Nurture Connection network is uniquely positioned to author opinion editorials, issue policy briefs, and engage in social media conversations and other avenues to highlight policy opportunities that will advance ERH, as it has done successfully on a variety of ERH policy topics. We will work together to raise the profile of ERH and normalize discussions about the foundational relationships parents and caregivers have with young children.

ERH Policy Watch

A growing number of policy proposals and initiatives, if enacted and implemented strategically, could support ERH. For example, key committees in Congress are working to address the national mental health crisis with recommendations specifically tailored to babies and toddlers and their parents and caregivers. Moreover, pandemic relief funding and initiatives in states provide an unprecedented opportunity to advance collective impact initiatives.

We monitor these opportunities and share them with the field with the goal of supporting coordinated responses. We are doing this by collaborating with our partners on activities like sign-on letters, communicating with Congressional offices, engaging partners and champions, disseminating information, and responding to grant opportunities. We are also cultivating new and deploying existing champions to capitalize on opportunities to create conditions to promote Early Relational Health.


Join the Nurture Connection Movement

Community by community, we are building a networked and engaged movement in partnership with parents and families.

Through our collective imagination and effort, we can make sure that every child is cared for and valued, every family is supported and heard, and every community is made stronger through positive and enduring emotional connection.