According to The Center On The Developing Child at Harvard, recent advances in the science of brain development offer 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 children have starting at birth, even prenatally, affect lifelong outcomes—combined with new knowledge about the core capabilities adults need to thrive as parents and in the workplace—provides a strong foundation upon which policymakers and civic leaders can design a shared and more effective agenda.
The science of child development and the core capabilities of 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. That is, to be maximally effective, policies and services should:
- Support responsive relationships for children and adults.
- Strengthen core life skills.
- Reduce sources of stress in the lives of children and families.
These three principles can guide decision-makers as they choose among policy alternatives, design new approaches, and shift existing practice in ways that will best support building healthy brains and bodies.