About Us Events Calendar Child Care Parenting Information Adoption Information Respite Care Disability Topics Lead Poisoning Home What is Early On? Where to find help for your child Childhood Development Early Childhood Early Literacy Preschool State & National Links Professional Development Downloadable Publications Medical Dictionary Child Health Vaccinations & Immunizations Search & Glossaries Bridges4Kids Great Parents/Great Start Early On Michigan Menu
 Where to find help for a child in Michigan, Anywhere in the U.S., or Canada

What's New? ~ Site Map ~ Translate

  Last Updated on 07/13/2018

Brain Child: Public Policy is a Child's Third Parent

by Mike Phillips, Scripps Howard News Service, May 26, 2003

Parents are every baby's first teachers.

But right behind them are the policy makers —who regulate or don't regulate day care centers, who decide what social workers will teach parents and what they will teach children, who decide whether public dollars will be devoted more to the early years of childhood or more to the later years, who decide what children will be taught, how they will be taught and when they will be taught.

Public policy is a child's third parent.

Just like human parents, public policy in America has a spotty record of applying the power of brain science to how children are brought up.

The chief policy-maker of all, President Bush, has focused his administration on reading and readiness for school. One dramatic statistic drives this focus: By the fourth grade, 40 percent of America's children still can't read.

Scientists who study how children's brains grow say this an immensely important issue, but it's only part of the early childhood challenge. Social, emotional and physical development is also determined by how the brain grows. These qualities affect a child's future life as much as reading and school readiness.

The nation's first and still most controversial early childhood program, Head Start, may be getting a new start, one of many new starts for this program. An offshoot is focusing clearly and strongly on developing young brains. A debate rages over how to administer the mother program. Meanwhile, Head Start reaches only a small portion of the nation's young children.

The early childhood program that touches most American youngsters is day care. Day care is not a program so much as phenomenon — a phenomenon that will influence some two-thirds of all children during their most critical developmental years. States are responsible for regulating day care. Some do so vigorously. But across America, some researchers believe, more than a third of day cares are so bad, they're actually harmful to the children they serve.

The nation's childhood policy-makers have started to apply brain science to policy — goaded, often, by grassroots activists who are missionaries for using this powerful new tool to improve children's lives.

One grassroots movement is universal pre-K, a movement that seeks to provide voluntary, cognitively designed childcare to all 3- and 4-year-olds. This promises to be the public policy debate that sweeps away all others.

Today's package of Brainchild stories explores all of these facets of America's third parent plus one other that should interest any taxpayer: where the money goes.



© 2002-2018 Bridges4Kids - Report a Bad Link