Brain Development and Public Policy
As fascinating and enriching as brain research is to individual parents and practitioners, the real power in understanding early brain development lies in applying this new knowledge to change the current systems of care and community practices that affect all young children and their families. Just as the brain is the ultimate “use it or lose it machine,” the new research findings must be used to help improve physical, emotional, educational and social outcomes for our children.
This section begins to define and catalog policy implications of the widely available information about early brain development. Some policy issues are specific to changes in Georgia; others may be applicable in other states or at the national level as well.
Brain Development Briefs
The following Brain Development Briefs have been created by Better Brains for Babies to educate decision-makers about early brain development and its implications for policy decisions. Feel free to share these briefs with decision-makers.
- Early Brain Development: Policy Makes a Difference
- Adolescent Brain Development: Unlocking the Potential of Georgia’s Youth
- Toxic Stress and Healthy Brain Development
Definition of “Policy”
In this section, policy is defined broadly as decisions and actions of elected officials, governmental agencies, courts, regulatory bodies, or voters that affect public and private services and service delivery systems. Examples of policies that affect young children include laws, budgets, regulations, judicial decisions, agency practices and executive orders.
The following links have public policy and advocacy information for issues affecting infants, toddlers and their families. This section will always be a work in progress as parents, trainers, workshop participants and experts from around the state contribute new ideas to the catalog for change. Sites are listed alphabetically. If you would like to recommend a policy-related site for this list, please contact us.
- The Education Commission of the States (ECS) presents a comprehensive picture of educational issues at all levels to help state leaders shape educational policy.
- The Future of Children provides research and analysis to promote effective policies and programs for children. Recent topics related that affect young children include poverty, childhood obesity, marriage and family well-being, and school readiness.
- The National Center for Children in Poverty highlights states’ policy choices alongside other contextual data related to the well-being of young children.
- The National Scientific Council on the Developing Child is a multi-disciplinary collaboration of leading scholars in neuroscience, early childhood development, pediatrics, and economics whose goal is to bring sound and accurate science to bear on public decision making affecting the lives of young children.
- The Promising Practices Network on Children, Families and Communities (PPN) provides easy-to-understand information on what works to improve outcomes for children and their families. Included is information on proven and promising early childhood programs and early childhood policies.
- RAND Child Policy serves as a gateway to RAND research on children’s issues from prenatal to age 18, and provides easy access to objective information that will help improve policy and decision-making.
- The Zero To Three Policy Center is a research-based, non-partisan program that brings the voice of babies and toddlers to public policy.
Issues by Policy Area
The following are public policy issues and recommendations that stem from our increasing understanding of early brain development, based on recent research findings. Some of these recommendations are specific to Georgia — but many are equally important in other parts of the United States and the world. Click here to see the entire list of policy recommendations, or click on the links below to see policy recommendations in specific issue areas.