Congressional Briefing | Invest in the Future: Policy Strategies that Support Healthy Child Brain Development
The National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives (NPSC) and the FRONTIER program at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, will co-host a briefing with internationally recognized experts on child neurobiology to present research showing that family support policies have a positive impact on brain development in infancy and childhood. Such policies also reduce child maltreatment, one of the more extreme consequences of poverty, which is enormously costly in terms of government services expenditures, productivity losses, and increased child mortality, not to mention the human suffering. Providing modest financial support to parents of young children can yield high returns on the long-term health of our children and promote their academic, personal, and societal success.
New studies provide solid evidence that financial assistance to families positively affected children and families across the entire country, in both rural and urban settings, by giving parents the autonomy to use funds on what their families need the most, whether it is rent, healthier food choices, better childcare, or an enriched home environment. Increasing access to these resources in very low income households appears to improve child development by directly impacting brain growth and functioning.
Most rapid brain development occurs in the third trimester and the first 2 years of a child’s life. Early exposure to poverty affects the baby’s brain, adversely affecting parts of the brain that process information and holds connections between brain regions that are involved in regulation of behavior and emotion, learning ability, and stress management. A recent study that provided cash support to new mothers showed that at one year of age, their babies demonstrated higher levels of brain activity associated with improved learning and cognition. For example, studies are showing the expanded child tax credit, which lifted 30% of children out of poverty, bolstered brain development by allowing families to better care for and nurture their babies and young children.
In this briefing, leading scientists whose work focuses on infant and early childhood brain development will share their findings on the essential role of economic support for young families in promoting healthy child development. Speakers will discuss the science of early brain development, studies that examine how measures of brain function are indicators of improved academic social and self-regulation skills later in childhood, and the evidence for the positive effects of modest economic support for young families.
This congressional briefing will be of value to legislators/staffers, government agencies at all levels, practitioners and clinicians, law enforcement, school officials, students, regulatory agencies, social scientists, national and community organizations, and foundation and corporate communities.
Children are our next generation of leaders and require the resources and tools to provide them with the best chances to thrive and succeed. Anti-poverty programs are investments in children, the future work force, the health of our nation.