Mission and History

Our Impact Lasts a Lifetime. 85% of brain development happens by the time a child turns age 3. During these first 3 years of life, the brain is making connections that will become the foundation for all other learning.



Mission Statement: First3Years nurtures early relational and mental health of infants and toddlers in Texas. Working in deep collaboration with caregivers, parents, and professionals statewide, we cultivate strong early childhood systems, educate our workforce, and advance best practices.


Vision Statement: Our vision is that all infants and toddlers in TX spend their first three years in an ecosystem that supports the healthy development of their early mental and relational health.

First3Years began in 1980 as a group of volunteers in the infant mental health field who were concerned about the quality of care for infants and toddlers both inside and outside the home.  The founders wanted to create high quality training and education opportunities for professionals whose work impacts the emotional development of infants, toddlers, and their families.

In 1986, First3Years was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) organization, and over the past 40 years we have trained and mentored thousands of professionals across the state on brain development, attachment, separation, trauma, self regulation, cross-cultural awareness, and other infant mental health related issues.  We believe that supporting the social emotional development of infants and toddlers is critical for helping the next generation be healthy, productive members of society.




Our programs:

  • Build awareness of the critical importance of the first three years of life.
  • Enhance the quality of relationships between infants/toddlers and their caregivers.
  • Inform policies and practices that support the healthy development of young children.
  • Educate professionals in best practices.

First3Years has a state-wide reach with regional staff and volunteers in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio.

We serve the community by linking research to practice and making it accessible to all.

As part of our overall mission to create and support a higher quality workforce in the infant-toddler field, First3Years works to support and recognize those who have specialized skills and training around infant mental health through our Endorsement Program.

With regards to advocacy, First3Years has demonstrated effectiveness in educating and influencing policy makers. First3Years was instrumental in the Texas Legislature's raising the pre-service training requirements for child care licensing from 8 to 24 hours, and ongoing professional development training from 8 to 24 hours per year.