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Jack Shonkoff, M.D., is the Julius B. Richmond FAMRI Professor of Child Health and Development at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard Graduate School of Education; professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital; and director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. He currently serves as chair of the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, a group whose mission is to bring credible science to bear on public policy affecting young children, and chairs the JPB Research Network on Toxic Stress. In 2011, Shonkoff launched Frontiers of Innovation, a multi-sectoral collaboration among researchers, practitioners, policymakers, investors, and experts in systems change who are committed to developing more effective intervention strategies to catalyze breakthrough impacts on the development and health of young children and families experiencing significant adversity.
Under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences, Shonkoff served as chair of the Board on Children, Youth, and Families and the committee that produced the landmark report, From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development. He also served as a member of the Panel on Child Care Policy, the Committee on the Assessment of Family Violence Interventions, and the Roundtable on Head Start Research.
Shonkoff's honors include being elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Pediatric Society; being designated National Associate of the National Academies; and receiving the C. Anderson Aldrich Award in Child Development from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Award for Distinguished Contributions to Public Policy for Children from the Society for Research in Child Development.
Shonkoff has served on the core scientific group of the MacArthur Research Network on Early Experience and Brain Development, the Governing Council of the Society for Research in Child Development, and the Executive Committee of the Section on Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He has authored more than 150 publications, including nine books; co-edited two editions of the Handbook of Early Childhood Intervention; and served on the editorial board of several scholarly journals, including Child Development.
Shonkoff completed his undergraduate studies at Cornell, medical education at NYU School of Medicine, pediatric training at Bronx Municipal Hospital Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and fellowship in developmental pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital. He has been a visiting professor or delivered named lectureships at universities in the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Turkey, and the U.K. He was the Samuel F. and Rose B. Gingold Professor of Human Development and Social Policy and dean of The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.
Click here to see a full list of Jack Shonkoffs courses.
The early childhood field is at a critical inflection point. During the last two years, a devastating pandemic has exacerbated longstanding inequalities and disrupted vital services, while a groundswell of social activism has brought broader public attention to the deeply embedded inequities of institutional and systemic racism. The fragility of the ecosystem was abundantly clear in its overburdened health care system and collapsed childcare infrastructure. The need to rebuild is clear, but restoring the pre-2020 early childhood sector is not the answer.
Drawing on our strengths, assets, and widely respected capabilities, we want to deploy our signature approach to knowledge synthesis, translation, and communication against the growing, rich, untranslated body of knowledge of ECD 2.0 in service of re-envisioning the early childhood ecosystem. Furthermore, we want to take what weve built to the next level by including a more diverse set of voices, perspectives, and lived experience in our efforts to drive a new generation of science-informed mindset shift to catalyze changes in policy, practice, and funding that will realize bigger impacts for children and families.
Objective 1Catalyze new thinking and research on the impact of early adversity on child development, particularly the impact of structural inequities and systemic racism, with the goal of deepening the knowledge base
Objective 2Making science accessible to non-scientists with the goal of shifting mindsets about the impact of early adversity on child development
Objective 3 - Enhance the capacity of more policy influencers in the US to make the science of early childhood actionable, with the goal of strengthening policy, practice, and funding approaches focused on improving impact at scale
This proposal to the J.B and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation is to secure their renewed flexible support for the Center on the Developing Child for the next three years. As part of a group of core investors for the Center, the Foundation is one of 5 funders who received a 3-year Investment Proposition outlining
our strategic direction for the future. Our thinking has moved from a short-term focus on meeting budget needs to a longer-term focus on the resources required to: (1) drive the next era of scienceinformed mindset shift for the field; and (2) sustain HCDCs distinctive niche in the early childhood ecosystem. The Foundations flexible support would be combined with others to fund the totality of our needs.
This grant will support the advocacy and capability-building goals of the Playful Parenting and Refugee Playful Beginning initiatives through the development and dissemination of compelling communication tools and the implementation of capability-building experiences to attain the following outcomes:
Outcome 1: Strengthened decision-maker knowledge about effective intervention strategies and policies to foster resilience and improve learning and health outcomes for young children, with particular emphasis on play-based strategies. The LEGO Foundation is asking HCDC to develop specific knowledge goods and experiences to share cutting-edge, scientific evidence indicating the value of Learning through Play as an important part of effective intervention strategies and policies to foster resilience, and improve learning and health outcomes for young children. By decision-makers, we mean the practitioners, policy-makers, civil society members and funders who participate in the experiences that HCDC designs as part of this grant. The Foundation is also asking HCDC to build in opportunities to strengthen the knowledge of LEGO Foundation staff directly, to enable them to share this knowledge with the decision-makers that they reach through our own advocacy activities.
Outcome 2: Enhanced decision-maker skills to apply credible scientific evidence to design, implement, and monitor effective intervention strategies and policies that enable parents and other caregivers to better support childrens holistic development through play-based approaches and other means. The LEGO Foundation is asking HCDC to develop specific capacitybuilding experiences to enhance the skills of key decision-makers from different sectors. This will enable those decision-makers to experiment with and apply the knowledge base to design, implement, and monitor more effective intervention strategies and policies across health, education, and social protection systems that enable parents and other caregivers to better support holistic child development through play-based approaches and other means. By decision-makers, we mean the policymakers, funders, implementing organizations and other key leaders from various sectors who have the potential to catalyze adoption of policies and standards of practice and whom HCDC engages through the capability-building experiences designed and implemented as part of this grant.
The goal of The JPB Research Network on Toxic Stress is to build new measurement capacity that will empower pediatricians and parents to better understand, quantify, and mitigate the effects of significant adversity on the health and development of young children.The JPB Network agenda for the next three years will focus on two objectives:
Complete validation/norming of the JPB Battery of Stress Activation & Resilience through expanded field testing in a diverse cohort of 18-20 pediatric practices to collect and analyze 6,000 samples.
Ongoing refinement of the composite battery with investigation of additional candidate measures for rapid inclusion in near-future iterations.