The Birth to Three Fund

Community Foundation of Tomkins County

We all know that in their first three years of life, children need to be safe, well-fed, held, talked to, and have their physical and mental health cared for. There is compelling evidence that many of our long-term social ills are directly linked to the consequences of not meeting these infant’s and toddler’s developmental needs.

Research is very strong and clear: young children who experience adverse childhood events are at risk to become troubled teens and poorly functioning adults. Infants and toddlers whose basic needs are unmet are unprepared to meet the challenges of school and in society. Children who start out behind tend to fall farther behind.

The Birth to Three Fund provides financial support to help make sure that more of our children thrive and greatly increase their chances to grow into healthy teens and well-functioning adults. But helping infants and toddlers develop can be hard.

Many families in our county face difficulties that make it very challenging for them to fully support their children’s growth and development. As much as parents love their children, in today’s economy many cannot adequately support their families’ needs on one person’s salary. Even families with two adults working full time may struggle to put enough food on the table, pay the rent, and pay medical expenses. Child care is expensive and quality child care is difficult to access. Many parents who work in Ithaca can’t afford to live in Ithaca; many live miles out of Ithaca in surrounding towns and villages in our county. Often those families cannot afford a reliable car. Just getting children to medical appointments can mean gathering them up, walking some distance to a bus, and then transferring to another bus within Ithaca.

Our county has many groups and agencies that assist families, but many of these groups are under-funded and under-staffed. Head Start and Pre-kindergarten programs provide services to children age three and up. Children from birth to age three are particularly vulnerable and in need of support. Financial support from the Birth to 3 Fund is used strategically to improve and enhance existing services. We also offer funds to create new initiatives to provide additional help our youngest and their families.

The Birth to Three Fund’s first grant was to Tompkins Cortland Community College to support their new infant child-care center. The infant child-center will enable the College’s students with young children to go to classes and to study while their children are in taken care of in convenient, professionally supervised child-care.

The Birth to Three Fund provided the support necessary to the Child Development Council to train volunteers to launch their new Welcome Baby program. That grant was used to develop a volunteer training program and to market the launch of the Welcome Baby program.

During the current Coronavirus crisis, the Birth to Three Fund has made substantial contributions to the Child Development Council to provide for basic needs such as formula and diapers to families with very young children who need such support.