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What Early Childhood Development Means for Strong Neighborhoods

The strength of a community depends on the health and wellbeing of its residents. New scientific research also suggests that the wellbeing of an individual may have a lot to do with his or her community. The latest developments in understanding brain science suggest that 90% of brain growth occurs in the first five years of life, so growing up in a stimulating, supportive, and healthy environment is integral to a child’s success.
 
A recent op-ed from Susan Dreyfus, President and CEO of the Alliance for Children and Families, cites the latest brain science as further evidence of the need for comprehensive early childhood education, such as the universal pre-K proposed by the President. Truly high-quality early education would reach outside of the classroom, to include family-engagement and home visiting. Ms. Dreyfus says, “Without the support of quality early childhood development programs, these children face lifetime deficits in skills and abilities that can have a long-term impact on our communities and our nation's productivity.”
 
Policies that help children today will help build the neighborhoods of tomorrow. Myriad research suggest the positive impacts that quality early care has on an individual’s educational attainment, lifetime earnings, overall health, involvement with crime, and general livelihood and stability. The data are there that an investment in children now is an investment in our communities for the future.
 
Just as a child grows up to impact his or her community, fostering a supportive and stable neighborhood environment has a huge impact on a developing child. To further explore the latest science on the interplay of individual development and community development, we are pleased to announce that Dr. Jack Shonkoff will be one of our featured plenary speakers at the upcoming Neighborhood Revitalization Conference. Dr. Shonkoff is a professor, a pediatrician, and the Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. His work examines the role of environment and early child care on brain development, and what it means for future wellbeing.
 
We look forward to welcoming Dr. Shonkoff, as well as numerous other researchers, academics, practitioners, policymakers, thought leaders, and more at the 2014 Neighborhood Revitalization Conference. The Conference will take place July 24-25 in Washington, DC. There’s still time to submit workshop proposals! Keep watching the main Conference website for up-to-date information on registration, speakers, and more.

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Blog | by Dr. Radut