Docs for Tots’ policy work can be defined as little “p” and big “P.”  Little “p” is local institutional policy change – in a clinic, in a child care setting, in a partner e.g., a food pantry making a separate line for moms with young children seeking diapers. Big “P” is more traditional policy – like changing regulations at the county, state, and federal level, advising on legislation, educating decision makers about the needs of young children and their families.  

Docs for Tots sees the value in both the little p and the big P policy approaches and their inter-relatedness. For example, as a result of our little p efforts related to developmental screening, 34 partners now have policies in place to screen for developmental progress. And our Pediatric Practice Transformation technical assistance efforts help NYS providers sustainably implement standardized screening tools, giving them the resources to make best practice everyday practice for every 0-to-5 year old they serve.

Our big P efforts have led to Docs for Tots being included in state legislative efforts led by New York State Assembly Member Hevesi to include ACES in practice and policy decision making, as well as other key advisory and deliberative committees across health, welfare, and education. Our policy work is a mechanism to arrive at systems-change. 

These are some early childhood initiatives Docs for Tots supports:

  • ECAC – Docs for Tots leads the goal group for this governor appointment state council that advises the governor on early childhood issues  
  • Raising NY – Pritzker funding statewide initiative on steering committee  
  • Kids Can’t Wait – Children’s Initiative in Rochester on steering committee  
  • First 1000 days – on committee to redesign how Medicaid covers/helps young children 
  • NYeC CBO & VBC Advisory Group – member for digital integration of EHR and community systems  
  • National team for defining school readiness in national data collection efforts  
  • New York State AAP Chapter 3 Early Child Champion  

We see our greatest opportunities for policy impact in the future at the big P level in helping NYS recognize the innovative and effective programs that are happening in regions like Long Island and making the investment to bring them to scale across the State. One example of this recognition is the 2022 Legislative Grant awarded to Docs for Tots to oversee expansion of Help Me Grow in NYS.   

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Investing in quality early learning programs is the most efficient way to affect school and life success and to reduce social expenditures later.

James Heckman, economist, Nobel laureate