From 1999 to 2003, staff from the Chicago-based Ounce of Prevention Fund, a public-private partnership focused on early childhood, planned and supported the Birth to Three Project, a cross-agency service integration initiative serving expectant families and those with young children in Illinois, to improve the comprehensive health and development of very young children.
Growing understanding of the importance of nurturing and successful parenting in early childhood has generated substantial new support for programs to work with families with very young children.
In the mid-1990s, for instance, Illinois allocated $24 million in new funding for Birth to Three programs and increased funding for child care services by $110 million, according to the Ounce of Prevention Fund. Despite these added resources, the Ounce of Prevention Fund noted service gaps, barriers to access, lack of coordination and insufficient training for those serving families with young children.
According to the project director, the initiative contributed to the following changes in early childhood development programs in Illinois: