Leveraging Science to Shape the Future of Early Childhood Policy

Jack Shonkoff, MD

Stress, Social Policy, Service Delivery, Brain Architecture, Serve and Return

June 2011

Dr. Jack Shonkoff, Director for the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, examines the science that tells us that early experiences are “built into our bodies,” for better or for worse. Continuing advances in the science of learning, the biology of adversity, and the findings of intervention research provide an unprecedented opportunity to move toward a new and more effective era in early childhood policy that is guided by cutting-edge knowledge and grounded in sound practice. The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University has identified three areas ripe for innovation: reducing barriers to learning, enhancing the resources and capacities of the family environment, and strengthening the early childhood foundations of lifelong health. The collaborative Early Childhood Innovation Partnership (ECIP) was established in 2009 to pursue this mission. Beginning with a focus on reducing barriers to learning, ECIP is currently building a Frontiers of Innovation Community to engage a diverse group of researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and investors to stimulate fresh thinking and catalyze the development and testing of creative new intervention strategies.