Healthy development in the early years of life can set the course for lifelong health, behavior, and learning. What can be done to ensure that children have a strong start early in life? The evolving science of early childhood development (ECD) provides powerful insights about how conditions and experiences get inside the body—for better or worse—and what we can do to ensure all children have a strong start in life. Equipped with that science, public leaders can support, incentivize, and strengthen equitable policy, practice, and funding approaches focused on improving outcomes for children and families facing adversity.

To that end, the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University with support from the LEGO Foundation has designed the ECD LEAD program, a 10-week, all remote, learning experience for policy makers and public leaders geared towards strengthening a network of champions for early childhood development (ECD) who have the knowledge, skills, and desire to apply scientific insights to advance their local ECD agenda. In the ECD LEAD program, we are committed to providing a learning experience that includes scientific presentations and interactive case scenarios that are accurate, culturally relevant, and respectful.

Our goal is to increase policymakers’ and public leaders’ understanding of ECD science as well as their ability and desire to apply it to their work. In doing so, we envision that these leaders will use their understanding of science to enact policy change and program initiatives focused on improving impact at scale for kids and families facing adversity. Our goals for the ECD LEAD program reflect our Center-wide commitment to preventing the lifelong consequences of structural inequities, systemic racism, and other threats to human well-being—consequences that begin to take root in the early childhood years—and our recognition of the need to go “upstream” and create policy solutions to address the source of these inequities.

ECD LEAD is currently in a pilot phase. The first version launched in 2022 in collaboration with five organizations in three countries in Latin America: United Way Colombia and Universidad de los Andes – Facultad de Educación (Colombia); Pacto por la Primera Infancia (Mexico); and Dinámica, Centro de Desarrollo Profesional and Universidad de Pacifico (Peru). The second iteration will launch in March 2023.

As the Center continues to improve and grow the ECD LEAD program, we’ll make more information available on how to enroll. For now, please let us know if you are interested in knowing more about the program’s future cohorts by completing the brief form below.

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