State legislatures are turning to evidence-based policymaking as a way to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent efficiently and effectively. This is a very important development. For example, many states -- in response to research confirming that the early years of childhood affect learning, behavior and health for a lifetime -- have invested in family support and coaching programs.
These programs, often referred to as "home visiting," focus on strengthening vulnerable families during the critical period before age 5. Evidence shows that families that participate in visiting programs are often more stable and self-sufficient and are better able to handle stress. At the same time, parents who benefit from family support and coaching programs frequently raise their children with greater skill and confidence, leaving the children safer, healthier and better prepared to learn and grow.