A report of original Children’s HealthWatch findings demonstrating that the foundations of school readiness are laid long before the start of formal education begins.

Nourishing Development: A Report on Food Insecurity and the Precursors to School Readiness among Very Young Children

Though the impact of food insecurity on preschool and school-aged children is well understood, few have studied, until now, the effect of food insecurity on infant and toddler development. The first three years of life are a time of rapid brain growth with unique potential for learning and development, which lay the foundations for later school readiness. Young children from poor and near poor families are largely invisible. Why is this? Only their parents, health and child care providers see them on a regular basis as they are not yet in formal educational settings.

Children’s HealthWatch, a national network of pediatric and public health researchers who study young, low-income children’s health, growth, and development, used the Parents Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS)to assess developmental risk among children 4 months to 3 years old. Developmental risk in early childhood is a continuum of vulnerabilities with slow or unusual development in one or more areas, such as speaking, moving, or behavior, that identifies children with increased likelihood of later problems, for example, with learning, attention, and/or social interactions.