Florida and Colorado Increase the Presence of Evidence-driven Prenatal-to-3 Policies

Through comprehensive reviews of rigorous research, the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center identified the five most effective policies that states can implement to impact the immediate and long-term health and wellbeing of infants, toddlers, and their parents.

This year, two states, Florida and Colorado had ballot measures pertaining to policies outlined in the 2020 Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap – specifically, a state minimum wage and paid family leave, respectfully. Voters’ approval of these measures, when fully adopted and implemented will increase the presence of evidence-based policies in these states. Paid family leave programs have been found to foster better child-parent relationships and improve maternal mental health, along with other positive economic and health impacts for young children and their families. A state minimum wage of $10 or greater is linked to a reduction in poverty, particularly for Black and Latinx individuals, along with improved birth outcomes, reduced infant mortality, and numerous other economic security and health outcomes for infants, toddlers, and families.

In Florida, Amendment 2 raises the state’s minimum wage from $8.56 to $10 on September 30, 2021 and subsequently, increases it by $1 a year until reaching $15 in 2026. The ballot measure passed by the supermajority of over 60% of votes that was required to amend the Florida Constitution and amend the state minimum wage. When increased to $10 in September, this measure will put Florida in a group of 19 states whose minimum wages are at least $10 an hour, a level that research shows leads to a variety of positive outcomes for young children and their families, with minimal impacts on employment. Between 2017-2019 in Florida, an estimated 12.3% of parents with children under age 3 earned less than $10 per hour, and all of these families will benefit from this wage increase.

In Colorado, voters approved Proposition 118, signaling support for amending the Colorado Revised Statues to create a state paid family and medical leave program and becoming the first state to do so through a ballot measure rather than legislation. When fully adopted and implemented the program will provide 12 weeks of family and medical leave, along with an additional 4 weeks for pregnancy or childbirth complications. Employees in the state will be eligible to receive up to $1,100 per week during leave, and the program will be funded through a payroll tax shared by employees and their employer. Coloradoans will be able to use the program and take paid family and medical leave once the program is implemented in January 2023. Colorado is the tenth state to have adopted a paid family leave policy of any length.

Through their respective ballot measures, Florida and Colorado voters have chosen to prioritize the adoption of policies that the evidence shows are effective in producing substantial positive impacts on prenatal-to-3 outcome measures. To learn more about what the evidence tells us about the impact of paid family leave programs and increased state minimum wages, please explore our Prenatal-to-3 Policy Clearinghouse.

The Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center would like to hear about any developments in your state’s efforts to implement new policies or increase the generosity of policies that support infants, toddlers, and their families. To connect with the Policy Impact Center’s Exchange team about work happening in your state to create more equitable and healthier starts for young children, please contact us at pn3exchange@austin.utexas.edu.