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Bringing Brain Science to Early Childhood

This article originally appeared in "The Atlantic."

A group of scholars at Harvard University is spearheading a campaign to make sure the early-childhood programs policymakers put in place to disrupt intergenerational poverty are backed by the latest science.

The idea sounds entirely reasonable, but it’s all too rare in practice, says Jack P. Shonkoff, the director of the university’s Center on the Developing Child and the chair of the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. That’s because program grants and policies are generally structured in ways that incentivize “positive” results. Agreements along the lines of, “We’ll give you funding to test this specific policy intervention and if you can prove it worked in three years, we’ll give you more,” are standard. Shonkoff and his colleagues think that model needs a major update.

On Wednesday, the center will publish a report that calls for an online and in-person network that uses recent advances in scientists’ understanding of the way young brains grow to create and test early-childhood interventions. “The absence of a science-based R&D platform in the early childhood field threatens the future of all children, families, and communities whose challenges are not being addressed adequately by existing policies and programs,” write the authors...

Read more at The Atlantic.