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Advocacy that ensures our name is our promise.

Children & Families First’s mission is to champion children and families using evidence-based, equity-centered, and innovative approaches. We envision diverse, healthy, and resilient communities where all children and families thrive.

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, with adverse community conditions serving as underlying roots for individual and family experiences.

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.

For more information, please contact Kirsten Olson, CEO by email or 302-777-9764



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

  • Expand investments in an array of evidence-based home visiting approaches to ensure that all families have access to services that meet their unique needs and experiences.

  • 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 investments that support enhanced compensation for early childhood educators to address the race and gender wage gap


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

  • Enhance access to concrete supports, such as cash assistance, housing, and food, to prevent child welfare involvement which is often related to poverty and its effects.

  • 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.

  • 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 physical and behavioral health system that is culturally responsive for children and families. To do this, we advocate to:

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

  • Support the use of equity-focused, trauma-informed and evidence-based approaches.

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

  • Support investments in the behavioral health workforce, such as loan forgiveness, alternate professional pathways, and initiatives to prevent burnout, relieve workplace stressors, and increase access to high-quality mental health care for the frontline health care workforce.




We envision that 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. Further, we support Family Resource Centers as community hubs to increase resilience, facilitate service connection, and prevent child welfare involvement. 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.

  • Investments in school-based physical and mental health strategies to address the well-being of children, including support for school-based wellness centers.

  • Investments in place-based strategies like Family Resource Centers to address the well-being of families and children.




Now more than ever, it is clear the critical role of nonprofits to help solve society’s most pressing challenges. Social and human service organizations like Children & Families First are invaluable partners with government to respond not only to emergencies but also everyday community needs. As an essential service organization, we envision the financial stability of high-quality 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

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