The Science of Early Brain Development: A Foundation for the Success of Our Children and the State Economy

fis32_240x240Children’s experiences during the first few years of life shape the architecture of the brain. The developing brain can be compromised by exposure to toxic stress—unrelenting stress from repeated abuse, chronic neglect, severe maternal depression, parental substance abuse, etc. that occurs with or without the added burden of poverty. The wear and tear of toxic stress can contribute to a lifetime of impairments in physical and mental health, learning, and behavior. Children’s stress levels can be buffered and brought back to baseline by relationships with caring, responsive parents and high-quality providers of early care and education. Influencing a baby’s brain early in life is easier than reviving it later, and less expensive than the subsequent costs of remedial education, clinical treatment, public assistance, incarceration, and so forth. How can cutting-edge research on early brain development inform state policy decisions on issues ranging from child care to foster care, from education to workforce preparation? What role can public policy play in ensuring Wisconsin’s children get off to a good start in life?

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Presentations

Investing in Early Childhood Development is Smart Economic Development

by Arthur Rolnick
Former Senior Vice President and Director of Research, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and Senior Fellow and Co-Director of the Human Capital Research Collaborative, University of Minnesota

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Toxic Stress and Its Impact on Early Learning and Health: Building a Formula for Human Capital Development

by Pat Levitt
Provost Professor of Neuroscience, Psychiatry, and Pharmacy at the University of Southern California and Director of the Program in Developmental Neurogenetics, Institute for the Developing Mind, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

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Programs and Policies to Foster Early Development: What Works?

by Dave Riley
Rothermel-Bascom Professor of Human Ecology, UW-Madison, and Child Development and Early Childhood Education Specialist, UW-Extension, Cooperative Extension

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Additional Materials

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