Early Childhood


The primary goal of our Early Childhood Program is to improve the mental, emotional, and behavioral health and well-being of young children, especially those from low-income families and under-resourced communities.

Our program focuses on three of the influences that research suggests offer considerable promise to improving young children’s mental health and well-being (as broadly defined): the caregiver-child relationship; caregiver behavioral health; and early childhood adversity and stress.

To make lasting changes that help create a society where young children’s mental health and well-being flourishes, we use three levers of change:

  • Policies – Researching, analyzing, and advocating for scalable policies that are most likely to improve the mental health and well-being of young children.
  • Service delivery models – Identifying, pilot-testing, evaluating, and disseminating scalable programs and interventions that improve the mental health and well-being of young children.
  • Funding models – Creating scalable, sustainable funding models for prevention and intervention within the health care system, but also models that include other systems that impact children, such as social services, child care, and education.

When investing in on-the-ground work, we focus primarily on New York, Washington, D.C., Connecticut, and Maine, although the ultimate purpose of our work is to foster the development of scalable models for national change.  We collaborate with other foundations and, where possible, governmental entities to leverage public resources to increase the chances of achieving lasting change.

The Fund’s early childhood work integrates our long-term interests in improving children’s health (including their mental health), and in making lasting systems change. To make a sustained difference in young children’s lives will take time, but we are patient and committed.

Eliot Brenner, Executive Director


LENA participants wearing their talk pedometers.

Recipient Spotlight


Project: Assessing factors in the child’s audio environment that affect language development and social emotional functioning.

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