Families and communities today face complex challenges, and often times those family challenges can get passed down from generation to generation. New brain science research shows that the healthy development of children and youth leads to a thriving and prosperous society. Policies that promote healthy development benefit us all, and people who have healthy brains are more likely to become responsible and successful students, workers, parents and citizens.
Using the latest brain science research to influence practice, policy and public decisions has been the focus of an initiative called Change in Mind, which is a partnership between the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities and the Palix Foundation with strategic investment from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. KVC was one of just 15 U.S. and Canadian nonprofit organizations selected for this three year collaborative, and the cohort has just released the following policy brief: Using a Brain Science-Infused Lens in Policy Development: Achieving healthier outcomes for children and families
The cohort gathered in September 2016 for its fifth convening in Alberta, Canada, and KVC leaders in attendance included James Roberson, Vice President of Program Services for KVC Hospitals; Sue Lohrbach, Executive Director of the KVC Institute; and Chad Anderson, Chief Clinical Officer for KVC Health Systems. The report, which was released shortly after, addresses how healthy brains are built and why brain science should be infused with public policy changes. Lohrbach is cited as a contributor to the policy document.
Healthy Childhoods Support Healthy Brain Development
The policy identifies four core concepts that describe what it takes for healthy brain development to occur and protect children from Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress:
- Grow strong relationships with caring adults early
- Prevent ongoing and toxic stress, both of which can disrupt a child’s development
- Build resilience and buffer adversity
- Provide safe and stable environments
Because brain architecture and critical skills are built continuously over time, policies that promote healthy development through the early years create a foundation for later school achievement, economic productivity, responsible citizenship, and successful parenting. This is how early investments in our youngest citizens benefit all of us, socially and economically.