Dana Suskind’s “Parent Nation” to be Published April, 2022

The TMW Center is excited to announce the latest book from our founder and co-director Dana Suskind. Parent Nation: Unlocking Every Child’s Potential, Fulfilling Society’s Promise will be published April 26, 2022, by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Random House. In celebration of the book and its inspiring, actionable recommendations, the TMW Center will launch a campaign called “Building a Parent Nation” next spring.

In Parent Nation, Dana offers a compelling look at the neuroscience of early childhood development—and how it can guide us toward a more prosperous and equitable future. Her prescription: More robust support for parents during the most critical years of their children’s development.

Despite the inherent power all parents possess to lay strong foundations for lifelong learning and healthy development in their children, the systems we have today have made it nearly impossible for far too many of us to do so. Weaving together the latest science on the developing brain with relatable and often heart-breaking stories of extraordinary families from all walks of life, Dana shows that the status quo—scores of parents left to shoulder the enormous responsibility of early childhood care, development, and education on their own without formal support or guidance—is not only unsustainable, but deeply detrimental to the wellbeing of children, families, and society.

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated our inequities and revealed our nation’s fault lines, particularly around how we care for, nurture and educate our children. The time for reimagining our current structures is now, and this book offers a blueprint. Parent Nation calls on each of us to unite in spite of—indeed, in celebration of—our differences and build a brighter future for all children.

Informed by the science of foundational brain development as well as history, political science, and the lived experiences of families around the country, this book clearly outlines how society can and should help families meet the developmental needs of their children—and ensure that all children are afforded the promise of their promise.

The TMW Center looks forward to sharing this book with the nation through our Building a Parent Nation campaign. Together, this campaign and important volume will help shift political will in favor of championing families and giving all children an opportunity to thrive. And they will illuminate the actions needed to turn that support into reality.

To receive updates about the book, the campaign, and related events, please sign up for our Building a Parent Nation newsletter here.

What We’re Reading

Persevering through the Pandemic: Key Learnings about Children from Parents and Early Educators – Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative, Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Leveraging data collected in late 2020 and early 2021 as part of the Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H), this report captures the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on children, families, and early educators. Unsurprisingly, it finds that the pandemic has negatively affected young children’s academic, social-emotional, and behavioral development, and calls for a careful approach to reopening schools this fall. As children return to school, the authors note, they will not only need help in rebuilding their core academic skills, but also with those essential social and emotional skills that underlie all learning and interpersonal interaction. “Taking time up front to ask children about their well-being and providing them with tools to process what they have experienced will make a substantial difference … in the long run,” the authors suggest.

TMW Center on Instagram!

Looking for more of our evidence-based tips and strategies? Our new Instagram account shares easy-to-use tactics (and the science behind them!) that parents and caregivers can use to enhance the early language environment for their children. Follow along at @TMW3Ts!

Science of Scaling Updates

We’ve been amazed by the response to The Scale-Up Effect in Early Childhood and Public Policy: Why Interventions Lose Impact at Scale and What We Can Do About It, the edited volume we released in May. It is a privilege to be part of the critical conversations happening around the country related to responsibly scaling early childhood programs, policies, and practices, including those made possible by federal COVID relief funding.

ICYMI, New America published a Q&A with TMW Center Co-Directors John List and Dana Suskind on the book’s themes and recommendations.

On October 20, we are co-hosting a webinar with Child Trends, which will feature several of The Scale-Up Effect contributors discussing their recommendations for scaling in the early childhood space. Please save the date! This webinar will take place from 2:00 – 3:30 pm ET on October 20 and will be open to the public. An invitation is forthcoming.

3Ts – Let’s Talk in the News

“I think as a mom you second guess yourself a lot,” said Katie Tomlin, a participant in our 3Ts-Let’s Talk pilot in Kentucky. But, she added in a recent interview with Lexington’s ABC 36, “With this program I feel like I don’t do that as much.”

We are honored to support parents like Katie with our suite of evidence-based programs, and thrilled that ABC 36 chose to highlight the commitment of the Let’s Talk participants and facilitators in Kentucky. You can watch or read the story here.

Elevating the Science of Scaling

The TMW Center was honored to partner with the Brookings Institution’s Governance Studies Program to host a virtual event on the role of scaling in effective evidence-based policy on June 17. TMW Center’s co-directors John List and Dana Suskind joined former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Brookings’ government innovation expert Elaine Kamarck in a thoughtful discussion of the challenges and opportunities presented by scaling. The panel was expertly moderated by Results 4 America’s Vice President of Solutions, Omar Woodard.

You can read a summary of the event here or watch it in its entirety here.

We are already looking forward to a follow-up event tentatively planned for early 2022. Because, as Dr. Suskind noted on the panel, when it comes to having a fiscally responsible government and truly giving our population a better quality of life, understanding scaling is, without a doubt, one of the most critical issues that we face.

What We’re Listening To

Speaking of child care, Lemonada Media’s new limited series podcast, No One is Coming to Save Us, explores America’s broken system and how it can be fixed. Hosted by Gloria Riviera and featuring Kristen Bell, the series utilizes an innovative combination of reporting and storytelling that helps bring the current crisis into sharper focus.

What We’re Reading

Everything Elliot Hapsel has been writing about the child-care industry’s massive and unprecedented staffing shortages. He’s ringing alarm bells in The Washington Post, on social media, and in his new—and great—newsletter.  Unfilled positions are leading to fewer spots and longer waiting lists in communities across the country and leaving far too many families without safe and reliable options. “The rotten seed of America’s disinvestment in child care has finally sprouted,” he writes, “and without a new, permanent source of public funding, the sector is likely to crash and pull working families down with it.”

As the budget resolution and reconciliation process heats up in Washington, this is an issue that demands our attention.

First Let’s Talk Spanish-Language Groups Launch!

The pilot of our Let’s Talk group program has expanded to two new cities: Houston, Texas, and Lexington, Kentucky. And for the first time, the program is being offered in Spanish as well as English.

Science demonstrates that parents engage with young children most effectively in their native language, and we are thrilled to have one group of Spanish-speaking parents participating in Let’s Talk in the Lexington region and two groups in Houston. The other groups in each region will meet in English.

This would not be possible without our dedicated partners who implement Let’s Talk locally. We are so grateful to Community Action Council and Children’s Museum Houston for recruiting participating parents and facilitating this powerful program in the manner that best meets their needs.

You can learn more about Let’s Talk and all of our evidence-based programs at https://tmwcenter.uchicago.edu/tmwcenter/what-we-do/evidence-based-interventions-tools/.