Early Childhood Health and Development

The first five years of life are a critical time for children’s health and development. How the brain develops during these years will affect a child’s ability to learn later in life. Children’s future health and development depend on good relationships with their primary caretakers and other adults in their lives.

The Health Department offers several resources to help children get a strong start for a healthy life. These programs encourage healthy and safe:

  • Homes
  • Child care
  • Early education settings
  • Neighborhoods

Also, you can learn more about raising children on the Health Department Facebook page, Our Littlest New Yorkers. This page provides tips, referrals and other information about keeping children safe and healthy.

Programs and Resources

The City offers a number of resources and avenues of support for parents and guardians, expectant parents and those who may become parents.

  • The Parents Help Line connects you with a specialist who can refer you to the City resources and services that make the most sense for your needs. Call 311 and ask for "Our Littlest New Yorkers".

  • Parents Connect Groups offer an opportunity for parents to connect and support each other. Groups meet Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. at the Brownsville Health Action Center in Brooklyn. You can sign up in advance for a group. For more information, call 718-495-8211.

  • The New Family Home Visits Initiative offers support, services and referrals to new and expectant parents. The program aims to help those who live in areas of the city that have been most affected by COVID-19 and have had great health and social burdens. Through this program, a trained health worker makes in-person or virtual visits to the homes of new parents.

  • Nurse-Family Partnership provides support for first-time moms to help them have a healthy pregnancy, become more knowledgeable and nurturing parents, and provide their babies with the best possible start in life. Your own personal nurse will visit you throughout your pregnancy and be available to you, at no cost to you, until your baby turns two years old. The program is available to first-time mothers who meet income requirements, regardless of age or immigration status.

  • The Newborn Home Visiting Program sends health workers to your home to provide breastfeeding support and help you create a safe and nurturing home for your family. They will answer any questions you may have and help you find services your family might need. The service is available for all mothers, regardless of age or immigration status.

  • Infant Sleep Safety offers information on how to keep children younger than 1 from dying from a sleep-related injury.

  • Breastfeeding: Learn about the benefits of human milk for babies and our tips if you are having problems with breastfeeding.

  • The Early Intervention Program supports families with children who are up to three years old and have disabilities or developmental delays. After a child is evaluated and found eligible for this program, a team of professionals works with the family to create a service plan that meets their needs. The program is free and available to all families who live in the city, regardless of race, ethnicity, income or immigration status.

  • Child Care Connect helps parents find licensed day care in their neighborhood, and to see inspection results of all licensed day care facilities in the city.

  • Stages of Child Development: Learn about your child's development milestones as they age, from 2 months to 5 years.

  • Child Wellness Information includes health topics impacting children, from asthma to toy safety.

  • Pediatric Bundle Initiative offers 14 evidence-based programs and promising practices for pediatric health care providers.