- National Scientific Council on the Developing Child
- National Forum on Early Childhood Policy and Programs
- Global Children's Initiative
- Frontiers of Innovation
- Science of Health and Development Initiative
- Students, Education and Leadership Development
The Center's Global Children’s Initiative has begun to build a portfolio of activities in three domains: early childhood development; mental health; and children in crisis and conflict situations. Each of these domains is being guided by a faculty working group that will facilitate continuing cross-disciplinary collaboration; design and implement new projects; and engage additional faculty, students, and collaborators beyond the Harvard community. The initial set of activities currently being developed is outlined below.
Early Childhood Development
The first priority in this area is to adapt the successful work the Center has conducted in the United States for a broader range of strategically selected audiences, in an effort to energize and reframe the global dialogue around investments in the earliest years of life. To this end, we plan to educate the leadership of key international agencies, publish and disseminate papers to establish a strong scientific framework for global work, and conduct systematic communications research to identify the most effective ways to translate the science of child development for global policymakers.
The second priority is to generate and apply new knowledge that addresses the health and developmental needs of young children in a variety of settings. In this effort, the Center is pleased to operate the Özyegin Family - AÇEV Global Early Childhood Research Fund, which supports cutting-edge research conducted by Harvard scholars and their collaborators across a variety of fields and disciplines related to early childhood development. With this fund, the Center and AÇEV seek to advance global understanding of the early childhood roots of disparities in learning, health and behavior to have an impact on policy and practice in countries around the world. Projects that have received support from this fund including the following:
- Assessing quality in early childhood environments and programs in diverse global contexts;
- Piloting assessments to measure child development outcomes linked to malaria control strategies in Zambia;
- Expanding effective interventions to improve preschool quality in Chile; and
- Exploring the intergenerational impact of war through war-affected youth in Sierra Leone.
The Center also plans to convene research forums to facilitate collaboration among a wide network of scholars globally to share findings and co-develop publications.
Núcleo Ciência Pela Infância, is the Center's first major programmatic effort outside the United States. In collaboration with local experts, this project aims to use the science of child health and development to guide stronger policies and larger investments to benefit young children and their families in Brazil.
Child Mental Health
Mental health concerns constitute a massively under-addressed issue that has significant implications for the broader health and development of children and societies. There is an urgent need to identify the scope of the problem within and across countries and to develop evidence-based approaches in policy and service delivery that are responsive to diverse cultural contexts. To respond to this challenge, a working group of Harvard faculty is developing a focused agenda in research, education, and public engagement to address significant gaps in knowledge and service delivery. The following three initial projects have been selected to launch this effort, subject to sufficient funding:
- Assessing the state of child mental health services in Shanghai, China;
- Developing and evaluating family-based strategies to prevent mental health problems in children affected by HIV/AIDS in Rwanda; and
- Addressing child maltreatment and mental health outcomes in three Caribbean nations (Barbados, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and Suriname).
To strengthen their policy relevance, each of these projects is being designed to include an economic component to analyze allocation effects in the supply and demand for services.
Children and Crisis
The Global Children’s Initiative is currently exploring potential synergies with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health, both of which have extensive experience working in emergency situations across the world. The goal of this effort is to foster interdisciplinary collaboration that incorporates a science-based, developmental perspective into the assessment and management of child well-being in a range of natural and man-made crises, focusing on both immediate circumstances and long-term adaptation. Two issues are the initial focus of activity in this domain:
- Exploring comparable approaches to surveying child status in post-earthquake Haiti and Chile.
- Bringing the science of child development into strategies for addressing acute malnutrition.
Building Broader, More Diverse Leadership Capacity in Research and Policy
Finally, and central to the Center’s core mission, an array of education and training activities will be incorporated into all of the thematic areas described above. The first dimension of this work focuses on building a sustainable infrastructure to support the productive engagement of Harvard students and faculty in a diversity of global settings. The second dimension focuses on developing opportunities to provide leadership training for individual researchers, policymakers, and institutions, primarily in the majority world.
Major support for the Global Children’s Initiative has been provided by:
Harvard Global Health Institute
The Pierre and Pamela Omidyar Fund, an advised fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation
An Anonymous Donor