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Advocacy that ensures our name is our promise.

Children & Families First’s mission is to help children facing adversity on their journey to adulthood. We use proven methods to help families raise their children so they can flourish. Through a comprehensive, dual-generation approach, we envision a community where children are nurtured, healthy, and safe; individuals are valued and resilient; and families are strong and self-sufficient.

Science tells us that early experiences affect the development of brain architecture, which provides the foundation for all future learning, behavior, and health. Just as a weak foundation compromises the quality and strength of a house, adverse experiences early in life can impact brain architecture, with negative effects lasting into adulthood. Further, we recognize that systemic inequities, poverty, and early childhood adversity are often intertwined.

Centering on equity, our policy agenda advocates for a just system where historically marginalized communities can access the tools, resources, and opportunities to reach their fullest potential.


We envision that every family has access to high-quality early learning opportunities. To ensure children enter kindergarten ready to learn, we advocate to:

  • Expand investments in home visiting to ensure that all families have access to services as needed.

  • Explore funding mechanisms for home visiting that may include Medicaid reimbursement and Pay for Success.

  • Increase funding for early childhood education, including Purchase of Care and Early Childhood Assistance Program (ECAP), to support enhanced access to quality child care for all families who need it.

  • Increase compensation for early childhood educators to professionalize the workforce and address the race and gender wage gap.

  • Support the development of a mixed-delivery universal PreK system across Delaware.


We envision children and their families strong and thriving in healthy and stable environments. To decrease out-of-home placements and support families who are involved with the child welfare system, we advocate to:

  • Implement Paid Family and Medical Leave policies.

  • Strengthen and expand both practice-based and evidence-based, trauma-informed prevention services that are equity-informed so children and families are healthy and whole.

  • Strengthen and support kinship caregiving to help maintain children’s connections with family, increase stability, and reduce the trauma of family separation.

  • Enhance access to concrete assistance, such as financial supports, housing, and food, to prevent child welfare involvement.

  • Ensure transition age youth in foster care receive equitable access to education, career development, affordable housing, and other supports.


We envision a comprehensive, family-centered behavioral health system that is culturally responsive for children and families. To do this, we advocate to:

  • Invest in school-based mental health strategies to address the social and emotional well-being of children amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Increase investments in an integrated, community-based behavioral health system that is inclusive of nonprofit agencies.

  • Support use of trauma-informed and evidence-based approaches.

  • Expand community awareness of trauma and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and the buffering impact of positive relationships.


We envision that all schools, in partnership with families and community partners, serve as hubs of the community and organize a trauma-informed, whole child and family approach to learning and development. To do this, we advocate for:

  • Public investments in community schools that integrate quality instruction, comprehensive support services like behavioral health and family engagement, and expanded learning opportunities for student success and growth.


COVID-19 has made clear the critical role of nonprofits during a health and economic crisis. Social service organizations like Children & Families First are invaluable partners with government to respond to emergencies. As an essential service organization, we envision the financial stability of nonprofit organizations to be a fundamental ingredient for our communities. To do this, we advocate to:

  • Ensure that the contracting process for nonprofit organizations acknowledges the key partnership role that they serve in equitably extending government response.

  • Ensure that contracts are evaluated at least annually and adjusted to account for rising costs of service-delivery. Special consideration should be given to support and reward high performance and service excellence.

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