A New Framework for Science-Informed Investment in the Early Foundations of Health and Development
Over the past two decades, the “brain science story” has made a powerful case for investing in the early childhood period. Now, a devastating pandemic has exacerbated longstanding inequalities and disrupted vital services, while a groundswell of social activism has brought broader public attention to the deeply embedded inequities of institutional and systemic racism. These converging challenges have intensified the demand for fresh thinking about the future of the early childhood field. The resources in this guide are designed to support the efforts of change agents across a rich diversity of sectors, cultures, geographies, and political perspectives to drive a critical re-envisioning of the field.
Call to Action
Re-Envisioning Early Childhood Policy and Practice in a World of Striking Inequality and Uncertainty
Advances in the biological sciences now underscore three concepts that, together with the original core story of development, offer a broader framework for science-informed investment in a post-pandemic world.
Connecting the Brain to the Rest of the Body: Early Childhood Development and Lifelong Health Are Deeply Intertwined
The rapidly advancing frontiers of 21st-century biological sciences now provide compelling evidence that the foundations of lifelong health are built early, with increasing evidence of the importance of the prenatal period and first few years after birth.
How is ongoing, severe stress and adversity in early childhood connected to chronic disease in adults? And, what can we do about it? In this animated video, learn what the latest science tells us about how early experiences affect not only early learning and school readiness, but also lifelong health.
The environments we create and the experiences we provide for young children and their families affect not just the developing brain, but also many other physiological systems, including cardiovascular function, immune responsiveness, and metabolic regulation.
Three key messages from the science of early childhood development, adversity, and resilience can help guide our thinking in a time when innovation has never been more needed in public systems to improve both health and learning.
The scientific evidence is clear and growing: racism imposes unique and substantial stressors on the daily lives of families raising young children of color.
Research suggests that constant coping with systemic racism and everyday discrimination is a potent activator of the stress response. This may help us understand the early origins of racial disparities in chronic illness across the lifespan.
Did you know that interactions among genes, experiences, age, and environments influence every biological system in the body, with especially powerful effects in the earliest years? Learn five quick facts about health that are frequently misunderstood.
How do our biological systems work together to respond to chronic stress? What do these responses mean for early learning and lifelong health? And when we say that early experiences matter, what do we mean by early?
How do we use the science of early childhood development to implement practical strategies and overcome longstanding barriers in the early childhood field? How can we ensure that families’ voices are heard when we create policies or programs?
The Brain Architects Podcast: COVID-19 Special Edition: How Do We Rebuild and Re-Envision Early Childhood Services?
This episode explores what COVID-19 revealed about the needs of caregivers with young children or during pregnancy, what we learned about the importance of science over the course of the pandemic, and how we can make changes going forward.