Early childhood programs provide crayons, blocks, and story time – and they should also, a new policy brief says, improve access to comprehensive services.
Strong models already exist, and now is the ideal time for states to draw on the lessons that these programs offer and scale access to comprehensive supports and opportunities.
The pandemic has made the need for more support during early childhood more urgent than ever.
“Researchers from the fields of economics, education, neuroscience, and psychology have found that growing up poor — or during a pandemic — affects child development and school readiness for two primary reasons,” according to the brief – “Building a Statewide System to Support Early Childhood Program Integration with Comprehensive Services” – which has just been released by the Mary E. Walsh Center for Thriving Children (CTC) at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education and Human Development.
The first reason: “research has shown that children in poverty have less access to the types of materials, resources, and enriching everyday experiences that we know promote learning. This is true at home, in their communities, and in their schools.”
The second reason: “the often chaotic experiences associated with poverty, a public health crisis, or the effects of systemic racism may create prolonged periods of stress for children and their families, which can become toxic to children’s brain development. As the Harvard Center on the Developing Child explains, overactivation of the body’s stress response can keep a child in ‘fight or flight’ mode with harmful consequences for brain growth and readiness to learn in school.” Continue reading “Integrating comprehensive services in early childhood settings: a policy brief for state leaders”