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WA State Kicks-off First 1,000 Days with Visit by Dr. Jack Shonkoff

Over 150 state and community partners from across Washington gathered at the State’s Capitol last Wednesday, June 21st to join Dr. Jack Shonkoff, Founder and Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, kickoff the  Washington Frontiers of Innovation (FOI) First 1,000 Days at the event, Brain Science Leads the Way: So What, Now What?”

The First 1,000 Days, a partnership between community leaders and WA FOI state agency* representatives, aims to bring the science of early childhood brain development to practice and, ultimately,

  1. Improve early identification, coordinated response, and support to mitigate common family stressors; and,

  2. Support positive parent-child relationships to buffer young children from stress and promote optimal development.

    In January 2017, the WA FOI Staff Team published a Request for Letters of Interest and received letters from 18 communities.  Representation from all 18 communities attended the June 21 event where, in addition to Dr. Shonkoff, they heard from the WA FOI State agency leadership team about ways that state agencies work differently together and from Representative Ruth Kagi about State Policy wins based on the brain science.  The day closed with a moving personal story from Alise Hegel, Advocacy Manager for Children’s Home Society of Washington.

    Launched by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University in 2011, Frontiers of Innovation’s goal is to drive science-based innovation that leads to dramatically larger impacts on the lives of young children whose needs (or the needs of the adults who care for them) are not being met by existing policies and programs.  The WA FOI partnership was established the same year between the Center and WA State Agencies and stakeholders promoting this agenda by implementing program, practice, policy, and system innovative changes and systematically studying them to learn what works to improve outcomes for vulnerable children and families in Washington State.

    We’re excited to see what’s next with this developing partnership and opportunity for children to have better health, educational, and social emotional outcomes if their families are strong, stable, and supported by systems, policy, and communities informed by the science of early childhood.

*Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS); the Department of Early Learning (DEL); the Health Care Authority (HCA); the Department of Health (DOH); and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).  The Department of Social and Health Services includes the following administrations, Economic Services Administration (ESA), Rehabilitation Administration (RA), Behavioral Health Administration (BHA), and Children’s Administration (CA).