The science is clear, inequities in the language and learning environments of children age birth to three inhibit foundational brain development and disproportionately affect children living in poverty. These disparities grow exponentially through a child’s early years, negatively impacting her educational trajectory and life course outcomes. Most families interact with the healthcare system more than any other institution during their child’s formative years. Though researchers and practitioners have begun to explore the healthcare sector as an avenue to reach families during this time, its potential remains vastly underutilized.

Leveraging the Healthcare Systems to Impact Educational Disparities was an interdisciplinary conference that aimed to elevate the role of the healthcare sector, highlight current approaches, and harness its capacity to intervene early and have a lasting impact on a child’s future health and well-being. We were joined by pediatricians, intervention developers, researchers and funders for a stimulating discussion on topics including:

  • What are specific ways the healthcare sector can advance parental knowledge of child development and impact educational disparities?
  • What are some current programs that work through the healthcare sector and their impact?
  • How case we use the science of scaling to replicate, scale, and fund evidence-based programs?

All conference sessions and related documents can be found below.

Opening remarks

Dr. Suskind’s Slides


Session #1 – Understanding the U.S. Healthcare System: Incentives, motivations and opportunities – Diane Alexander, Jocelyn Guyer, and Donna Cohen Ross

Diane Alexander’s Slides
View Jocelyn Guyer and Donna Cohen Ross’s Slides


Session #2 – Principles of Implementation Science: HealthySteps as a model and case study – Rahil Briggs and Allison Metz

View Rahil Briggs and Allison Metz’s slides.

View Supplemental materials for this session:

What is HealthySteps?

HealthySteps Overview

Healthy Steps Logic Model

HealthySteps Evidence Summary

Early Childhood Behavioral Health Integration Activities and HealthySteps: Sustaining Practice, Averting Costs


Session #3 – What we can learn from current approaches that leverage the healthcare system to improve child outcomes – Amanda Feinstein, Perri Klass, Dayna Long, Alan Mendelsohn, MD, and Marc Hernandez (Moderator)

View Alan Mendelsohn’s slides.

View supplemental materials:

Reach Out and Read: The Evidence

Public Funding for Reach Out and Read

Oakland Promise Brilliant Baby


Session #4 – Impacts of Early Childhood on Health and Life Outcomes – James Heckman

View Professor Heckman’s slides: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.


Closing Comments – John List