Creating a Safe and Supportive Environment


A child’s home is the first and most influential environment they are exposed to as it sets the stage for relationship-building, early learning, and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood development itself is “an important determinant of health over a person’s lifetime.”

By age six, children achieve over 90 percent of their adult brain volume and develop functional skills related to information processing, comprehension, language, emotional regulation, and motor skills. This means that a majority of children’s cognitive development happens before they even enter their first elementary school classroom.

What to Include

To reinforce healthy development, children birth through age nine must have access to home and care environments that meet the following conditions:

    • the environment is safe and supportive;
    • the environment uses developmentally appropriate early learning strategies; and
    • the presence of stable, responsive, nurturing caregivers.

By having access to these three things, children’s risk of exposure to adverse childhood experiences decreases. This, in turn, benefits children’s long-term wellbeing as the biological effects of ACEs are strongly associated with “numerous adult diseases, including coronary artery disease, chronic pulmonary disease, and cancer.”

More Information

To learn more about early childhood as a social determinant of health, visit the CDC website.


Series Navigation

The Developmentally Appropriate Parenting Series highlights several early childhood topics to support parents and caregivers who are caring for young children. Use the list below to navigate through each series topic:

Learn more about the series.

Request free printed materials from our Developmentally Appropriate Parenting Series.


Picture: A young baby looks up at the camera.
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