Report

Three Principles to Improve Outcomes for Children and Families

2021

Three Principles to Improve Outcomes for Children and Families

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This report was published by the Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University.

HERE’S HOW THE AUTHORS DESCRIBE THIS REPORT:

Recent advances in the science of early childhood development offer us an unprecedented opportunity to solve some of society’s most challenging problems, from widening disparities in school achievement and economic productivity to costly health problems across the lifespan. Understanding how the experiences infants, toddlers, and pregnant women have can affect lifelong outcomes—combined with knowledge about the core capabilities adults need to thrive as parents and in the workplace—provides a strong foundation upon which policymakers, service providers, and civic leaders can design a shared and more effective agenda.

The science of child development and the core capabilities of resilient adults point to a set of “design principles” that policymakers and practitioners in many different sectors can use to improve outcomes for children and families. To be maximally effective, policies and services should:

  1. Support responsive relationships for children and adults.
  2. Strengthen core skills for planning, adapting, and achieving goals.
  3. Reduce sources of stress in the lives of children and families.

The principles point to a set of key questions: What are current policies, systems, or practices doing to address each principle? What could be done to address them better? What barriers prevent addressing them more effectively?

Grounded in science, these three principles can guide decision-makers as they choose among policy alternatives, design new approaches, and shift existing practice to best support building healthy brains and bodies. The principles point to a set of key questions: What are current policies, systems, or practices doing to address each principle? What could be done to address them better? What barriers prevent addressing them more effectively?

Moreover, these principles can lead policy-makers to think about changes at all levels that could lead to better outcomes for young children.

Center on the Developing Child. (2021). Three Principles to Improve Outcomes for Children and Families. Harvard University. https://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/three-early-childhood-development-principles-improve-child-family-outcomes/

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