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. Drawing on our experience in North America, the Center on the Developing Child works globally to build a broader movement to achieve breakthrough outcomes for children around the world.
The following propositions guide the Center’s international work:
- Coordinated strategies to support child development can multiply the effects of investments in child survival, health, education, and economic development.
- We need to protect children from significant adversity, in addition to providing them with enriched learning opportunities.
- The early childhood years are critical building blocks for lifelong health, not just school readiness.
Together with partner organizations on the ground, the Center promotes innovation in Brazil, Canada, and Mexico, as well as across a broader international platform.
The collaborative Núcleo Ciência Pela Infância (NCPI) includes the Center on the Developing Child, Fundação Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal (FMCSV), the Medical School of the University of São Paulo, Insper, Sabará Children’s Hospital, and the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard. This partnership has been highly successful in creating a science-driven early childhood movement in Brazil, most notably through training Brazilian policy makers on how to apply developmental science to inform programs and policies and, recently, through launching the iLab Primeira Infância, one of the Latin American Innovation Clusters.
The Alberta Family Wellness Initiative (AFWI) shares our strong belief in the power of translating the science of child development to inform public policy. AFWI was created to counter the separation between science, policy, and practice work, which hinders the real-world application of scientific knowledge. Drawing upon the Center’s scientific resources, the initiative fulfills two key mandates:
- supporting research in early brain and biological development, mental health, and addiction, and
- translating that research for policy makers, healthcare communities, and the general public.
Through activities in applied research, knowledge translation, professional training, and evaluation, AFWI is continually seeking to bridge the gap between “what we know” in science and “what we do” in policy and practice.
AlbertaFamilyWellness.org offers resources and knowledge-sharing tools for researchers, healthcare professionals, policymakers, and the public, including presentations and learning modules on early brain development, toxic stress, the early foundations of lifelong health, addiction, and implications of the science for policy and clinical practice.
How Brains Are Built
This animated video produced by AFWI presents the core story of brain development in an accessible and visually engaging format using metaphors developed by the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child and FrameWorks Institute and tested with audiences both in the United States and in Alberta.
Use learning modules developed by AFWI to gain a better understanding of a particular area of early brain and biological development and addiction research.
The Aceleradora de Innovación para la Primera Infancia, one of the Latin American Innovation Clusters, is anchored in Monterrey at the Universidad Regiomontana, a pioneering institution at the forefront of an extensive urban revitalization effort. A strong interest in adding a human development focus to their work led the Monterrey team to connect with the Center and learn more about our strategy for enhancing child outcomes through adult capacity building.
The addition of Mexico to the Center’s existing relationships and experiences in Brazil creates a strong Latin American pillar for our innovation agenda, allowing us to begin to think about how lessons from these two projects can be applied locally, regionally, and globally.
Across Countries: Saving Brains
A partnership led by Grand Challenges Canada, Saving Brains seeks to improve outcomes for children living in poverty through interventions that nurture and protect early brain development in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life. The Center on the Developing Child supports a dynamic learning community of Saving Brains innovators to help them advance the impact and scale of their work in countries around the world.