National Scientific Council on the Developing Child

Working Papers

    Supportive Relationships and Active Skill-Building Strengthen the Foundations of Resilience

    Decades of research in the behavioral and social sciences have produced substantial evidence that children who do well despite serious hardship have had at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult. This new Working Paper from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child explains how protective factors in the social environment and highly responsive biological systems interact to produce resilience, or the ability to adapt in the face of significant adversity.

    Read more & download PDF >>

    View all resources >>

    The Science of Neglect:
    The Persistent Absence of Responsive Care Disrupts the Developing Brain

    Extensive biological and developmental research over the past 30 years has generated substantial evidence that young children who experience severe deprivation or significant neglect—defined broadly as the ongoing disruption or significant absence of caregiver responsiveness—bear the burdens of a range of adverse consequences. This new Working Paper from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child explains why significant deprivation is so harmful in the earliest years of life and why effective interventions are likely to pay significant dividends in better long-term outcomes in learning, health, and parenting of the next generation. Read more & download PDF >>

    View all resources >>

  • Building the Brain's "Air Traffic Control" System

    Being able to focus, hold, and work with information in mind, filter distractions, and switch gears is like having an air traffic control system at a busy airport to manage the arrivals and departures of dozens of planes on multiple runways. In the brain, this air traffic control mechanism is called executive functioning, a group of skills that helps us to focus on multiple streams of information at the same time, and revise plans as necessary. This Working Paper from the Council and the National Forum on Early Childhood Policy and Programs explains how these lifelong skills develop, what can disrupt their development, and how supporting them pays off in school and life.

    Read more & download PDF >>

    View all Working Papers >>

  • The Foundations of Lifelong Health Are Built in Early Childhood

    A vital and productive society with a prosperous and sustainable future is built on a foundation of healthy child development. Health in the earliest years—beginning with the future mother’s well-being before she becomes pregnant—lays the groundwork for a lifetime of vitality. This report was co-authored by the Council and the National Forum on Early Childhood Policy and Programs.

    Read more & download PDF >>

    View all reports >>

  • A Science-Based Framework for Early Childhood Policy

    This ground-breaking framework for using evidence to improve outcomes in learning, behavior, and health for vulnerable children, co-authored by the members of the Council and the National Forum on Early Childhood Policy and Programs. Combining knowledge from neuroscience, behavioral and developmental science, economics, and 40 years of early childhood program evaluation, the authors provide an informed, nonpartisan, pragmatic framework to guide policymakers toward science-based policies that improve the lives of young children and benefit society as a whole. Read more & download PDF >>

    View all reports >>
About the Council
  • About the Council

    Established in 2003, the National Scientific Council is a multi-disciplinary collaboration of scientists and scholars from universities across the U.S. and Canada designed to bring the science of early childhood and early brain development to bear on public policy decision-making. The mission of the Council is to synthesize and communicate science to help inform policies that promote successful learning, adaptive behavior, and sound physical and mental health for all young children. Central to this concept is the ongoing generation, analysis, and integration of knowledge and the critical task of educating policymakers, civic leaders, and the general public about the rapidly growing science of early childhood development and its underlying neurobiology. Read more about the Council's mission & history >>

    Learn about the Council's members >>

    View & download the Council's publications >>

Council History

A Decade of Science Informing Policy

A Decade of Science Informing PolicyIn recognition of ten years since the publication of the Council's first working paper, this retrospective tells the story of how the group came to be, what its impact has been, how its members work, and why the Council has made a difference.





Project for Babies

Project for Babies

The Project for Babies is an initiative of the University of Minnesota Center for Early Education and Development. In 2012, the Project for Babies developed an educational video on the importance of the early years. The video features Regents Professor Megan Gunnar, Director of the Institute for Child Development at the University of Minnesota and member of the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. The video consists of four sections, each approximately five minutes in length.

View these videos as a YouTube playlist >>

Read more about the Project for Babies >>


About the Council

Find out about the Council’s mission, goals, and history. More >>

Council Members

Learn about the Council's unique, multi-disciplinary, multi-university group of scientists and scholars. More >>

Council Publications

The Council has created a series of publications to marry the science of early childhood and brain development with state-of-the-art communications research designed to effectively translate that knowledge for non-scientific audiences. More >>

Major support for the Council is currently being provided by:
The Alliance for Early Success, Buffett Early Childhood Fund, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the Norlien Foundation.