Innovation & Application

Washington Cluster

Among our initial cohort of innovation clusters, a network of pilot sites in the state of Washington represents the leading edge. This collaboration includes five program sites linked to six university-based researchers and a working group of program directors, managers, and senior advisors across multiple state agencies.

“The FOI work has been my savior … It has given new life to the work I’m doing.”

Staff member at a Washington state agency

Together, the sites and researchers are co-designing and testing new strategies for building executive function and self-regulation skills in caregivers and children. At the same time, they are addressing the developmental consequences of trauma and its transmission across generations. State agency leaders are building on these site-based activities by identifying what they will need to scale successful intervention strategies from a policy perspective. They are also providing the cluster with funding for continued experimentation. “I’ve been heading for burnout for a while now and the FOI work has been my savior,” says a staff member with one Washington state agency. “[FOI] has given new life to the work I’m doing. Being involved with a great group of thinkers has been energizing, motivating, and inspiring.”

Washington Innovation Cluster graphic

Central to the success of our innovation approach to testing new ideas and interventions is the idea of fast-cycle learning – that is, evaluating the work as it progresses, discovering quickly what is working for whom and not working for others, and making rapid adjustments based on those assessments. This ongoing interaction between researcher and program site is very different from most community-based studies.

Read more about the Washington Cluster in the September/October 2017 issue of Child Development.

One researcher in the cluster said: “Typically you work with a site, you run a full study, you see if it worked, you write it up, and maybe once it’s published you share it with the staff.” She noted further, “We really did design the study together with the staff at Childhaven. We share [the data] right away and talk about how we might go about instructing teachers differently.”

Featured Projects

Guided by a process committed to breakthrough outcomes for the most disadvantaged children, our Washington cluster is implementing several pilot projects that demonstrate fast-cycle learning in action. Featured projects include FIND and Learning Through Play.

Learning Through Play

Four young children playing a game where they touch their ears and noses

Learning Through Play utilizes games and play coaching to improve executive function skills in children.

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