Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children
Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Babies need love, diapers, caring adults, and sound public policies that carry them from their first day of life to age eight.

So it’s welcome news that the Institute of Medicine (IOM)– the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences — is conducting a study called “The Science of Children Birth to Age 8: Deepening and Broadening the Foundation for Success.”

The research will look at how the science of children’s development, health and learning can be used to better train child care providers and educators, so that they can create a seamless birth-to-eight pipeline.

This will be a “consensus study,” which is the “result of an IOM consensus committee’s deliberations in regard to a specific request from the study’s sponsor. After discussing the issue of concern, the committee addresses those issues in a consensus report.”

The researchers will consider “instructional practices, preparation and professional development, and family engagement across diverse contexts (e.g., rural/urban) and populations (e.g., special education, immigrant, dual language learners, sub-threshold children),” according to the study’s website.

The study will look at five issues:

– the influence of children’s neurobiology, health and development on learning

– the knowledge and skills needed by adults – including home visitors, child care workers, early childhood educators, pediatricians, center directors, elementary school teachers, and principals – “to seamlessly support children’s health, learning, development, and school success”

– the development opportunities and qualifications staff should have at entry and professional levels

– how the research on children and adults can be used to “re-envision preparation and professional development programs

– how this research can inform policy decisions

The study report will consider poverty, racial inequalities and disadvantage as well as learning environments in homes and schools. And researchers will look at “adult learning processes as they relate to teaching children” and “leadership/management skills as they relate to developing the skills of a highly effective workforce.”

The study’s recommendations will be addressed to federal funding agencies including the Administration of Children and Families, the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Services Resource Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Department of Education.

Recommendations will also be made to Congress, state legislatures, higher education, elementary schools, and early education and care providers.

The study is ramping up now and the report should be completed in 2015. To follow its progress, subscribe to email updates here.

To provide feedback on this study click here.

We look forward to seeing the study’s recommendations. They could help more babies grow into thriving eight year olds who are prepared to succeed in school and in life.


The members of the committee that will produce the consensus report are:

Bridget Kelly, Study Director, Institute of Medicine

Dr. W. Thomas Boyce, University of California, San Francisco

Joshua Brown, Professor of Psychology, Fordham University

Douglas Clements, Professor of Early Childhood Learning, University of Denver

Fabienne Doucet, Professor of Education, New York University

Dr. John Duby, Akron Children’s Hospital

Linda Espinosa, Professor of Early Childhood Education, University of Missouri-Columbia

David Figlio, Professor of Education and Social Policy, Northwestern University

Jana Fleming, Director of the Herr Research Center, Erikson Institute

Lisa Guernsey, Director of the Early Education Initiative, New America Foundation

Ron Haskins, Co-director of the Brookings Center on Children and Families and Budgeting for National Priorities Project, The Brookings Institution

Jacqueline Jones, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning, U.S. Department of Education

Marjorie Kostelnik, Dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences, University of Nebraska

Nonie Lesaux, Professor of Education, Harvard University

Ellen Markman, Senior Associate Dean for the Social Sciences, Stanford University

Rollanda O’Connor, Professor of Education, University of California, Riverside

Cheryl Polk, Executive Director, John and Lisa Pritzker Family Fund

P. Fred Storti, Independent Consultant, Minnesota

Ross Thompson, Professor of Psychology, University of California, Davis

Albert Wat, Senior Policy Analyst, National Governors Association