At Kinedu, we often talk about the importance of the early years in forming solid brain architecture. In the last decade, science has really made it clear that early experiences form the basis for either promoting health and development, or stunting it. Child development, especially from birth to age five, is a foundation for a skilled work force, a responsible community, and a thriving economy.
During this period, the child’s brain is most sensitive to the influence of external experiences, for better or worse. Responsive, dependable interactions with adults can lead to healthy emotional and cognitive development. On the other hand, toxic stress, caused by poverty, abuse or neglect, parental substance abuse or mental illness, or exposure to violence without supportive relationships with adults can interrupt normal brain development. The more adverse experiences in childhood, the greater the likelihood of developmental delays and later health problems, such as alcoholism, depression, heart disease, and diabetes. Toxic stress can also impair the development of executive function, or the brain’s ability to hold onto and work with information, focus thinking, and filter distractions. This set of skills is critical for school achievement, the preparation of a future workforce, and avoiding a wide range of population health problems.
Early intervention can prevent the consequences of early adversity. However, there is still no “magic bullet” for dealing with childhood adversity. Current best practices are not enough to create breakthrough outcomes for the children that need it the most. With this in mind, the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University started Frontiers of Innovation, an initiative that seeks to drive science-based innovation to achieve these breakthrough outcomes for children facing adversity.
The FOI Model seeks to do things differently than traditional academic research in order to be able to more rapidly achieve the results we are looking for, and that children and families urgently need. The model uses scientific knowledge to create high-impact strategies by allowing teams of researchers, practitioners, community members, and parents identify unmet needs and co-create science-based theories of change to address the underlying causes of the identified challenges. Through this process, the teams then: (1) create clearly defined intervention strategies and specified implementation materials; (2) use common measures and contribute findings to a common database; (3) embrace a segmentation approach that focuses on understanding what works for whom, in what contexts, and why; (4) test and iterate in a rapid cycle of learning and adaptation.
Kinedu is one of the proud supporters of the newest Frontiers of Innovation cluster, based in Monterrey, Mexico. Based at the Lab de Desarrollo Infantil at Universidad Regiomontana, with the support of organizations such as Omidyar Network and Fundación Frisa, the lab has brought together some of the best local thinkers and doers in order to collaborate to design and test new intervention strategies that could achieve significantly greater impact for young children in Mexico.
Kinedu continues to look for innovative ways to dramatically improve child development. Our support for the Aceleradora renews our commitment to achieving large-scale impact in a field that we fiercely believe can change lives for the better.
To learn more about the Aceleradora, visit our (Spanish) webpage here:
Read more about Frontiers of Innovation in a recent The Atlantic article, link below: