What We Do

The Center on the Developing Child’s diverse activities align around building an R&D (research and development) platform for science-based innovation, and transforming the policy and practice landscape that supports and even demands change. We do this because society pays a huge price when children do not reach their potential, because half a century of policies and programs have not produced breakthrough outcomes, and because dramatic advances in science are ready to be used to achieve a promising future for every child.

Building an R&D Platform

Image of an Frontiers of Innovation Community project at work
Within the Frontiers of Innovation network, researchers, practitioners, and community members co-create and evaluate new ideas in a diversity of project settings. View our Innovation in Action series to learn more.

The Center on the Developing Child’s R&D (research and development) platform, Frontiers of Innovation (FOI), supports scientific research that can inform the testing, implementation, and refinement of strategies designed to achieve significantly better life outcomes for children facing adversity.

There are three components to our R&D work:

  1. Science that provides a continuous pipeline of discoveries and hypotheses (from the biological, behavioral, and social disciplines) that are translated for non-scientists to understand and apply to their work.
  2. Intervention Strategies that are designed, tested, and refined through the FOI Model, often within the context of an “innovation cluster.” They include small-scale pilots as well as strategies for increasing the population impacts of large-scale, evidence-based interventions..
  3. A Learning Community that includes people and organizations united by a common vision, engaged in shared learning to accelerate innovation, promoting early adoption of promising strategies, and testing pathways to impact at scale.

Above all, we are working hard to create innovation-friendly environments in which practitioners, researchers, policymakers, parents, and investors can come together to test new ideas, engage in active learning, and solve complex problems.

Learn more about Frontiers of Innovation, our R&D platform

Transforming the Landscape

Experiences Build Brain Architecture
The Center employs a knowledge translation process that helps present key findings about the science of early childhood in clear, accurate, and uniform ways, equipping change agents to drive science-based innovation. Learn more about communicating the science.

Science-based innovation does not take place in isolation. Broader forces such as policy, the economy, and public opinion can help or hinder the ability of innovators to create, test, and spread new ideas. To achieve breakthrough outcomes for children, it’s imperative for this broader landscape to embrace the need for innovation.

The pathway to innovation is not always clear, the science does not speak for itself, and organizations cannot achieve lasting change alone. To overcome these challenges and transform the landscape, the Center:

  • stimulates demand for science-based innovation by translating and communicating complex ideas in simple, usable ways and in a variety of forms;
  • develops current and future leaders in the classroom and in the field, supporting them to think, work, and lead differently; and
  • cultivates institutional partners for collective ownership by building and sustaining mutually beneficial relationships with fellow travelers who are committed to achieving breakthrough outcomes for children.

Learn more about how we drive Collective Change

Working Globally

Working Globally - map of the world
Together with partner organizations on the ground, the Center promotes innovation in Brazil, Canada, and Mexico, as well as across a broader international platform. Learn more.

Persistent gaps in education and health associated with socioeconomic disadvantage impose enormous burdens on individuals, communities, and societies worldwide. Recent reports estimate that 200 million children fail to reach their full developmental potential by age 5. The Center on the Developing Child works to achieve breakthrough outcomes for children around the world in partnership with organizations committed to using the science to inform policy and practice and to drive innovation.

Learn more about how the Center is working globally

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