children and families over the past decade and the role of the science base in contributing to those changes. Mary Eming Young, Lead Child Development Specialist for the World Bank’s Human Development Network, spoke about how to mobilize science to promote policy innovation from an international perspective. Jack Shonkoff, Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, presented a new framework in examining how the science of early childhood development can contribute to social change.


Joan Lombardi
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Before the workshop, Joan Lombardi, Deputy Assistant Secretary and Interdepartmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, asked several people for their impression of the report From Neurons to Neighborhoods. One described it as a graduate school course condensed into a single book. Another said it was the embodiment of the importance of early childhood. A third observed that it affirmed the importance of the work they were doing. “We can’t underscore enough the importance of [this] report,” Lombardi said.

In her talk, Lombardi described the evolution of the federal policy environment and its relation to the early childhood science base. From Neurons to Neighborhoods emphasized several key scientific concepts:

• Biology and experience are both important in early childhood development.

• Context shapes the developing child.

• The growth of self-regulation is a cornerstone of early childhood development across domains of behavior.

• Relationships are the building blocks of human development.

• Vulnerability and resilience are key features of childhood and can be affected by both risk factors and protective factors.

• The course of development can be altered in early childhood by effective interventions.

These concepts have had great staying power and continue to influence federal policy today, Lombardi said.


1 This section of the chapter is based on the presentation by Joan Lombardi titled “The Federal Policy Perspective” at From Neurons to Neighborhoods Anniversary: Ten Years Later.

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