Early childhood is a critical time in development when equality can be sustained, or inequality can take root. As a developmental period, it is marked by rapid neurological development, and thus the period from birth to three is a foundation for all future development. In early childhood, children’s critical need is developmental support through nurturing and responsive interactions in everyday activities and routines. Differences commonly emerge linked to the differences in children’s immediate ecologies. As the contributions to this symposium underscore, one of the major impacts on ecologies is income inequality, and in particular, poverty. While it is not the only factor contributing to early inequalities among children, it is certainly a major one. In addition, some children are subject to various traumas in their early years that create additional developmental hurdles. This symposium is an effort to break ground on these critical issues. Early childhood has been an area largely neglected by law. Here, we start the conversation about the role of law, as well as the intersecting roles of other disciplines, in developing new policies, whether designed to remove barriers and stumbling blocks, or to embrace a level of support and insure its provision to every child. The contributions by legal scholars as well as medical, public health, and early education scholars, demonstrate the broad questions that must be addressed—they provide a starting point that we hope others will follow.
Nancy E. Dowd & Teresa Drake, Introduction: Early Childhood Symposium - Early Childhood Matters, 71 Fla. L. Rev. Fourm 1 (2019)