Project for Babies
The Project for Babies began as a special initiative of the Minnesota Community Foundation, supported by a grant from the Bush Foundation. The goal is to improve the health and developmental outcomes for very young children with special attention to the impact of early experience on the "life course."
This project aims to raise the importance of infants and toddlers (prenatal to three) at a policy level in three states (MN, North and South Dakota) and to integrate current scientific knowledge about child development into programs, practice, and sustainable systems change.
The Project for Babies has organized its investments according to a "theory of community change" map designed by the Aspen Institute. It uses a collaborative and catalytic approach to include communities of color, researchers, policy makers, and practitioners by investing in building blocks to improve health and developmental outcomes for very young children.
The Project partners include the Children's Defense Fund, Council of State Governments, Frameworks Institute, Early Childhood Resource and Training Center, the University of Minnesota, Wilder Research, tribal entities, and consultants David Cournoyer and Sheila Kiscaden.
So far, the Project for Babies and its partners have designed and conducted Legislative Leadership Institutes on Child Development Research and Policy; conducted studies and prepared reports on such topics as maternal depression, and the wellbeing of infants and toddlers in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota; and convened state, county, philanthropic, tribal, and community leaders to learn about neuroscience, Adverse Childhood Experiences, and effective interventions.
The Project for Babies moved to the College of Education and Human Development in July 2011. Jane Kretzmann, director of the Project for Babies, is a Senior Fellow in CEHD, housed in CEED. The initiative will build upon and draw from the University's commitment to scientific research, its place as a land grant university, its capacity in technology and communications, and its role in professional preparation. CEHD expects to integrate knowledge of 0-5 and enhance work begun by the Project through strengthened partnerships:
- Implement Legislative Leadership Institutes on child development research and policy
- Support research to practice networks
- Influence public discourse
- Support public sector leaders
- Engage cultural communities
- Develop and apply new knowledge
In 2012 the Project for Babies developed an educational video on the Importance of the Early Years featuring Regents Professor Megan Gunnar, Director of the Institute for Child Development. The video consists of four sections, each five minutes in length.
The Project for Babies is grateful to Greater Twin Cities United Way for providing financial support to develop the video, and to Harvard University's Center on the Developing Child for the use of visual images and other content. Thanks also to Vox Pop Video and Cliff Dahlberg for their work on the project.
Core Story, Part 1: Brain Architecture
CEHD YouTube | (6 minutes)
Core Story, Part 2: Serve and Return
CEHD YouTube | (5 minutes)
Core Story, Part 3: Stress
CEHD YouTube | (6 minutes)
Core Story, Part 4: Pay Now or Pay Later
CEHD YouTube | (4 minutes)
2014 Legislative Leadership Institute on Child Development Research and Policy Resources
Megan Gunnar, Ph.D., University of Minnesota Distinguished McKnight Professor in Child Development, international expert on the effect of stress on brain development, and member of the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, Harvard University. Dr. Gunnar provided a brief overview of basic neuroscience and the latest research.
Geoffrey Nagle, Ph.D., LCSW, MPH, President of the Erikson Institute, Chicago. Dr. Nagle, who lectured at the May 2013 UMN Harris Forum, until recently was a professor at Tulane University and director of the state’s Early Learning Council in Louisiana. Dr. Nagle expanded on current research and policy options.
Aaron Sojourner, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Center for Human Resources and Labor Studies, University of Minnesota. Labor economist, Dr. Sojourner provided results from a new study on 0-3 investments in closing the achievement gap.
- Can Intensive Early Childhood Intervention Programs Eliminate Income-based Cognitive and Achievement Gaps?
Funded by: Project for Babies, University of Minnesota; Harris Program, University of Minnesota; Start Early Funders Coalition
Jane Kretzmann talks about Projects for Babies
- More information about Project for Babies from the Zero to Three Policy Center
- Spring 2013 Healthy Generations issue, Life Course: Nurturing Early Growth and Development. Publication of the Center for Leadership Education in Maternal and Child Public Health, University of Minnesota. (32 pages)
- Article on College of Education and Human Development's Vision 2020 Blog: Toxic Stress in Children & Four Ways to Help, by Jane Kretzmann
- Casey Family Programs
- Children's Defense Fund
- Early Childhood Resource and Training Center
- Frameworks Institute
- The Council of State Governments
- Minnesota Community Foundation
- National Academy of Sciences
- Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota
- Shonkoff, J.P., & Phillips, D.A. (2000). From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.
United Way of Minneapolis