Early Years Matter

Jacobs Research Fellow Kate McLaughlin, Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of the Stress and Development Lab of the University of Washington, and 2016 Jacobs Marbach Resident Aisha Yousafzai, Associate Professor of Global Health at Harvard University, as well as Beatrice Ogutu, director of ICS-SP in Kenia and 2016 Jacobs Best Practice Prize recipient, are among selected speakers to address the vital subject of “Early Childhood Experience and the Developing Brain” at a four-day reporting institute for international journalists hosted by the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia University’s Journalism School in New York. From March 9 to 12, 45 journalists from 28 countries attend the reporting institute, which the Jacobs Foundation has helped funding. The institute adds to our activities in context of our thematic priority “Early Education” with which we help to formulate comprehensive early education policies in Europe.

Early years matter! A child’s brain grows to 90 percent of its adult size by age five, forming complex connections that are the basis for strong health, emotional relationships and cognitive functioning. Experiences in these early years are directly connected with the ability to thrive in later life.

The reporting institute aims to help journalists and news organizations around the world to improve their reporting on early childhood and brain development. It will focus on advancements in neuroscience and their implications for child development with a special emphasis on vulnerable children living in extreme poverty or unstable environments. The institute will also address programs and policies on education, health and related fields; and it will inform the participants on the crucial role of parents and caregivers in the development of children.

Other organizations supporting the reporting institute include the Bernhard van Leer Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation and UNICEF.