Monthly updates featuring resources, events, and more
from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University
Center Anniversary Celebrating 16 Years
Sixteen summers ago, the Center on the Developing Child was launched with a staff of four and an ambitious mission—to make the world a better place by leveraging the science of early childhood development to build broad, public support for investing in the well-being of young children and their families. That science—including once novel concepts like toxic stress—is more widely understood today than ever before and mobilized more frequently to strengthen the efforts of so many dedicated teams and individuals across the early childhood ecosystem.
Yet, even as our Center team recognizes this “Sweet 16” milestone and celebrates the progress that has been achieved, we are also keenly aware of how much critical work remains to be done. Last January, we shared a Call to Action to re-envision early childhood policy and practice in a world of striking inequality and uncertainty. We also introduced an expanded framework for science-informed investment in the prenatal period and earliest years after birth, which we named “ECD 2.0.” This new framework reaffirms the critical importance of responsive relationships for early development while also underscoring how the broader environment in which children live influences their lifelong health—and how the cumulative burdens of structural inequities and the unique threats of systemic racism impose enormous hardships on families with young children.
Those of us who work in the early childhood field find ourselves at a critical inflection point in an increasingly harsh world. While the challenges of these times often feel overwhelming, opportunities for bringing together cutting-edge science and the lived experiences of families and decision makers across a variety of sectors, cultures, and political values open up untapped possibilities for greater impact. In fact, one of the most threatening obstacles to that greater impact may very well be the hesitation to be bold.
My colleagues at the Center on the Developing Child and I are deeply committed to making the expanded science of ECD 2.0 accessible and actionable for policymakers, service providers, community leaders, and parents across the early childhood landscape. We are highly motivated to work with change agents in a variety of contexts who are implementing best practices in their current work and are eager to engage in bold thinking to move toward “next practices” that can increase the magnitude of their impact.
We do not underestimate the challenges that lie ahead, but we are determined to prevail. We are inspired by families who are raising young children in the face of significant adversity, and we are energized by the opportunities of working together with new and longstanding partners who share one central vision: creating a better present and a more promising future for all children and the adults who care for them.
ECD LEAD Engaging with Policymakers in Latin America
As part of the efforts outlined above, the Center on the Developing Child has set a strategic priority to increase its engagement and support for policymakers and public leaders as key agents in advancing systems-level change. With support from the LEGO Foundation, the Center recently launched a pilot effort of a new ECD LEAD program (Learning and Engagement to Advance Development), a 12-week, all-remote capacity-building experience for policymakers and other public leaders. The objective of the program is to strengthen a network of champions for early child development who have the knowledge, skills, and desire to apply scientific insights to advance their local ECD agendas.
Here are a few key facts about the ECD LEAD pilot which ran from March to May 2022:
38 participants attended, including project/program managers, elected officials, directors, consultants from foundations, academic institutions, NGOs, and government organizations in the child welfare, education, and social protection sectors, among others.
Sample program sessions: Leveraging Advances in Science to Inform a New Era in Early Childhood Policy and Practice; How Prenatal to 3 Experiences Affect Brain Development; The Impact of Poverty, Racism, and Social Exclusion on Young Children; and Integrating Learning Through Play in Policies and Programs, among many others.
The Center will be following up with participants in the coming months to learn about how their action plans are progressing, as well as which parts of the program proved most useful, to ensure that we can continue to refine the program in ways that boost its effectiveness and impact for participants. Our second iteration of ECD LEAD Latin America will launch in the first half of 2023, and we are excited to see how the program and its participants continue to deepen their impact in the field.
We're Hiring! Full-Time Employment Opportunities
We are always looking for talented individuals who want to join our team and support our mission. All available full-time positions at the Center are posted on Harvard’s employment website. Applicants for employment with Harvard University must apply for the specific job opening through this site. When searching for openings at the Center, select “Harvard Graduate School of Education” as the School/Unit or enter “Center on the Developing Child” in the Keyword field. Details on three of our current openings are listed below.
Grants Specialist The Grants Specialist will be responsible for the day-to-day management of a portfolio of complex grants and gifts. Pre-award responsibilities include grant preparation, budget development, and application submissions in coordination with program staff. Post-award responsibilities include financial tracking, reconciliations, and reporting. This position offers an exciting opportunity to learn and improve upon processes, create workflows, and work in collaboration with members of the Center’s team, as well as colleagues in departments across the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), including the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP). This position requires clear and concise communication with everyone involved in the full life cycle of an award. Read more and apply.
We are seeking an individual who is skilled and passionate about helping people and teams to turn information into learning that results in action, and who can help develop and support learning about the work HCDC is doing in the world as well as about our internal processes. More specifically, this role will lead the implementation of monitoring, evaluation, and learning processes within the Center, based on a “Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) Framework” HCDC has developed in collaboration with an external professional evaluation firm. Read more and apply.
Senior Project Manager, Administration and Culture
The Senior Project Manager, Administration and Culture will serve as the principal liaison between the HR Office at Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Center, and as such, will partner and collaborate with staff at every level of the organization to help develop, implement, and manage a wide array of internal processes, procedures and activities that foster accountability, promote Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (EDIB) engagement, encourage professional development, and create transparent and equitable growth pathways for team members. This position is ideal for someone who self-identifies as a ‘people person,’ who has a strong commitment to EDIB and is interested in using that perspective to promote a thriving and inclusive community. Read more and apply.