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Due to recent scientific advances we know more about the connection between brain development, the quantity and quality of experiences and learning opportunities during the first 5 years of life, early childhood development and learning, and the long-term effects of chronic or toxic stress on human health, disease, and productivity. We have evidence that the most significant brain development occurs from birth to age 3 and that before the child is 5 years old, his or her brain capacity will be 90% developed.

Responsive and nurturing interactions and experiences provided by stable caregivers cannot begin too soon in a child’s life. This paper explains, with a focus on Florida, why an integrative approach to early childhood matters, what we have learned from the research on early childhood development, which early childhood development programs are available in Florida, and what barriers still exist to realizing a more integrated system of care.