What Works to Keep Children Safe at Home?

The What Works for Third Grade Reading: Safe at Home working paper considers why reducing child abuse and neglect matters for third grade reading proficiency, outlines the connection with other factors that impact early literacy, and highlights options that have been shown to keep young children safe at home.

Children’s brains are built from the bottom up, starting at birth, and strong, nurturing connections with the adults in their lives are critical building blocks of that foundation.1 A stable, secure, nurturing relationship with a competent, caring adult is a key factor in helping young children be ready for school and read on grade level.2 Such relationships help ensure that young children are adequately nourished; protected from dangerous illnesses, exposure to toxins, and hazards that can lead to preventable injuries; provided with preventive health check-ups; protected from excessive stress; and afforded predictable daily routines that convey a sense of security.3

When children are abused, neglected or exposed to abusive, neglectful, or violent experiences in their homes or in neighborhoods, they are at greater risk for language deficits, reduced cognitive functioning, social-emotional and behavioral difficulties, poor self-regulation and problem-solving skills, attention deficit disorders, and reduced physical health. The incidence of child abuse and neglect is reduced when protective factors (such as social support, high quality reliable out-of-home child care, access to treatment of depression, and decent housing) are strengthened, and risk factors (such as poverty, social isolation, absence of supportive adults, and violence in the home or neighborhood) are addressed.4

What Works for Third Grade Reading is a collection of 12 working papers that address whole-child, birth-to-age-eight factors that support children’s optimal development and improve reading proficiency. The resource was produced by the Institute for Child Success and the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation, in collaboration with BEST NC, to support the work of the NC Pathways to Grade-Level Reading (Pathways) initiative.

Watch a webinar that provides an overview of the working papers and shares other Pathways resources that may assist communities in improving outcomes for young children.


1Serve and Return. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/serve-and-return/

2Schorr, L. B. & Marchand, V. (2007). Pathway to Children Ready for School and Succeeding at Third Grade. Retrieved from http://first5shasta.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/PathwayFramework9-07.pdf

3Schorr, Pathway to Children Ready, op cit.

4Schorr, Pathway to Children Ready, op cit.