About the Center

The mission of the Center on the Developing Child is to drive science-based innovation that achieves breakthrough outcomes for children facing adversity.

We believe that advances in science provide a powerful source of new ideas focused on the early years of life. Founded in 2006, the Center catalyzes local, national, and international innovation in policy and practice focused on children and families. We design, test, and implement these ideas in collaboration with a broad network of research, practice, policy, community, and philanthropic leaders. Together, we seek transformational impacts on lifelong learning, behavior, and both physical and mental health.

Center Director Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D., describes the mission of the Center on the Developing Child and its vision for using science to innovate in the early childhood field and fundamentally change the lives of children facing adversity.

What We Do

FIND Coach with Parent
View our Innovation in Action series to learn more about featured projects, with details about their theories of change, activities, and what we have learned from them so far.

The Center’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.

Learn more about what we do

Who We Are

We are a multidisciplinary team committed to driving science-based innovation in policy and practice. Our shared goal is to produce substantially larger impacts on the learning capacity, health, and economic and social mobility of young children.

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History of the Center

The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University was established in 2006 by director Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D. Our founding mission was to generate, translate, and apply scientific knowledge that would close the gap between what we know and what we do to improve the lives of children facing adversity.

Learn more about the history of the Center

Connect With Us

Contact us with your questions, sign up for our newsletter, or use our online forms to request presentations or permission to use our resources.

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