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Publication Title:

Rethinking the Governance of Early Childhood Systems


Janice M. Gruendel, Ph.D.
Emily Carroll, Ph.D.

Date: February 2015

Publication Type: Issue Briefs & Policy Reports

Policy Area: When Brain Science Meets Public Policy

Page Count: 16

Publication Excerpt:

The science of early brain development tells us clearly—whether we are parents, teachers, or policy leaders—that we must pay especially close attention to children’s growth in the early years before they start school. This is the time during which the brain is growing in the most amazing ways. It is also the time when early adversity can literally change the architecture and processing of the brain, with both short- and long-term negative consequences for health, safety and learning. Science has also taught us that early brain development progresses within the context of the reciprocal, responsive relationships that very young children have with their primary adult caregivers. To promote young children’s age-appropriate development and to support their adult caregivers—especially during times of adversity, risk or challenge—requires government at many levels to assess whether the services it provides and/or funds are organized and managed for optimal benefit. This report summarizes what states are doing to promote the development and management of high quality, demonstrably effective early childhood systems. It focuses on one of the central challenges in the systems-building process: the critical role and structure of governance when service delivery involves many agencies. Two potential models of governance are suggested, along with some thoughts about each approach.

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