Family Resources

We’ve all been inundated with resources lately. Here are some of our favorites for families with young children:
The AAP’s parent-facing website is full up-to-date information and resources.
Compilation of articles that include advice on talking to children about the virus, how to care for yourselves and your families during this time, and some activity ideas.
A single destination for parents, caregivers, educators, and program leaders to find helpful resources for parents and young children during this time.
Compilation of resources that address a variety of needs families may be facing including access to food resources, low-cost technology, and internet services.
ParentsTogether offers the latest parenting advice and resources as well as an online community, Coronavirus Parents: Parenting in a Pandemic group, for folks wanting to connect with other families who are trying to make it through this time.
Bright by Text sends free games, tips, and resources right to your cell phone tailored to your child’s age.
Storyline hosts free virtual readings of children’s books. Each video animates the pictures in the books and includes an activity guide.
Sesame Street’s Caring for Each Other initiative offers resources for parents, free e-books, videos, activity ideas, and more for families.
Indoor activity tool-kit that focuses on activities that don’t require any special materials.
Join author and artist Mo Willems in his virtual studio for doodling, drawing and writing fun.
Audible makes hundreds of children’s books available to stream for free.

Spring 2020 at the TMW Center

These are truly unprecedented times. We at the TMW Center have made a number of changes in recent weeks to adapt our efforts and outreach so that our work may continue. Beginning in mid-March, for their safety and that of their families, our staff transitioned to working remotely. Similarly, our student workforce was sent home by the university for the remainder of the school year. Since then, our focus has been threefold: accelerating workflows unaffected by the current crisis, reprioritizing others to ensure we’re optimizing our efforts, and looking for new ways to get our resources out to communities and into the hands of more families. Along the way, we’ve been doing our best to make sure our staff, both full-time and students, has the support they need professionally and personally to navigate these uncharted waters.

Our first virtual staff meeting!

COVID-19 Update

Dear Friends,

To say these are trying times is an understatement. As we’re all doing our best to adjust to the new normal, I hope this finds you well.

As a physician, I’ve witnessed first-hand the extraordinary dedication of the health care professionals and support staff with whom I work. I’ve also watched so many in my community, the city of Chicago, and our nation come together for the greater good by social distancing, donating resources, checking on elderly neighbors, and so much more. This moment in time is, perhaps, a metaphor for how we need to think – and more importantly, act – to change our societal structures to better support all caregivers.

In the midst of a pandemic, the spotlight is on health care workers. And rightly so. The shortage of PPE, personal protective equipment, is one of the most heartbreaking aspects of COVID-19. The fact that we lack resources as basic as masks and gowns to protect our health care workers – the very people we’re relying on to take care of our sick – is unimaginable. But just as we are only as healthy as those who care for us, our nation’s children can only thrive when their parents have adequate access to resources and support. In both cases, we owe it to our caregivers to provide the resources and support they need to succeed in these most critical roles. We at the TMW Center are committed to continuing the important work of supporting families during this unprecedented time and are actively adapting our efforts and outreach to keep up with the ever-changing reality.

Even amid such uncertainty, I am buoyed by examples of kindness and good in the world. In my own life, a neighbor dropped off 2 boxes of N95 masks she found in her garage. A friend who owns a fabric store made thousands of masks. Families in my Hyde Park community are placing teddy bears in their front windows so parents of stir-crazy young children can turn going on a walk into going on a bear hunt. This list goes on and on, and it fills my heart.

There are glimmers of hope to be found by looking at history, as well. I’ve been reading quite a bit lately, particularly about our nation’s response to WWII. Interestingly, some very inspiring work related to families and children grew out of this time. As it became necessary for women to join the workforce to support the war effort, the need for childcare became a priority. In 1942, with funding from the 1941 Defense Public Works law, the Lanham Act established the first federally-subsidized childcare system where all children, regardless of family income, qualified. By the end of the war, more than 550,000 children had attended Lanham-funded centers.

The program didn’t survive for a variety of reasons, but over the years, historians have pointed to lasting positive impacts. It was unique in its mission to address the needs of both children and mothers from all socioeconomic backgrounds. In addition, there was a substantial increase in maternal employment for the women who participated, and documented positive outcomes in the children.

None of us know what it’s going to look like on the other side. My hope is that we come together to reflect not only on what we can do to be better prepared in times of crisis, but to view lessons learned through a broader lens to do better for our families each day. Just as we must protect the health of our nation’s health care providers, so must we nurture and support our nation’s parents. Our caregivers, all caregivers, deserve this.

Warmest regards,


Co-Director, TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health

Any Time is 3Ts Time Campaign

We at the TMW Center are honored to continue our partnership with the PNC Foundation and their PNC Grow Up Great initiative with Any Time is 3Ts Time, a multimedia campaign that fosters knowledge and builds actionable skills that enable parents to promote their children’s foundational brain development. At the core is the 3Ts – Tune In, Talk More, and Take Turns – a simple, yet powerful tool that helps parents make the most of everyday interactions with their young children.

Any Time is 3Ts Time will allow us to have an impact on thousands of families across PNC markets through a community-driven suite of online, print, and in-person resources for families. This content, available in both English and Spanish, will mark the next phase of TMW’s evidence-based interventions, shown to have meaningful outcomes for children ages 0-3. As with everything we do, science will be at the heart of this work, guiding a data-driven approach to optimize our efforts and deepen parents’ learning.

Perhaps most exciting for us is that the first community to adopt Any Time is 3Ts Time will be our hometown of Chicago. In collaboration with Metropolitan Family Services, an organization that supports local families, we’ll roll out campaign resources including Let’s Talk!, a group program that aims to provide parents a greater understanding and mastery of 3Ts strategies. Beginning in January, we’ll pilot Let’s Talk! at 3 Metropolitan Family sites, with the cities of St. Louis and Lexington following in early spring.

Learn more about the Any Time is 3Ts Time campaign and get a sneak peek at some of the resources here.

The Incubator Begins

The inaugural year of the Griffin Applied Economics Incubator is officially underway, with the TMW Center playing a critical leadership role. The year-long initiative, which is focused on expanding early childhood research with an emphasis on the science of scaling evidence-based interventions, is hosting a variety of events and producing a series of publications throughout the year.

One of the Incubator’s most exciting and ambitious projects is the development of an edited volume called “The Scale-up Effect in Early Childhood and Public Policy: Why interventions lose impact at scale and what we can do about it.” The volume brings together the latest and best research to address the fact that the great promise of evidence-based early childhood interventions has yet to be realized; that we have yet to achieve population-level change for children living in poverty.

Later this month, the TMW Center and the Griffin Applied Economics Incubator will host a two-day closed workshop for authors who are contributing to the project. Authors will present their chapters, receive feedback from one another, and work together to develop recommendations for the field. With a group of authors and attendees that includes accomplished economists, psychologists, physicians, field researchers, and early childhood practitioners, the workshop is certain to be lively, enlightening, and an important part of the book’s development. The result will be a volume that advances the efforts of those who are working to improve outcomes for millions of children across the world.

Spanish Home Visiting Wrap Up

Earlier this fall, we completed the pilot study of the Spanish language adaptation of TMW-Home Visiting (TMP). Ninety-five families participated in the 12-month effort, which included 12 bi-weekly meetings between the parent and home visitor.  The children ranged in age from two- to two-and-a-half-years-old at the outset, and we followed the families to six months post-intervention.

The TMP team has already put the wheels of our of feedback-driven-innovation-cycle in motion by hosting a focus group of participating parents. The goal of this meeting was to hear first-hand what TMP parents thought of the experience, with an eye toward improving the existing curriculum. The comments were overwhelmingly positive, with parents demonstrating a clear understanding of their role fostering their children’s early brain development, as well as mastery of the 3Cs: Conectarse, Conversar, y Compartir Turnos.

Said one TMP graduate of her experience, “Now I’m always looking for ways to interact and play more with my child. I find that we have a closer connection because of the program.” Said another, “I really see the difference in my child.  He’s more social, confident, and independent.”

We look forward to sharing findings from the pilot in the coming months.

TMW-Home Visiting: A Sneak Peek at New Findings

We’ve reached another milestone in data collection for our TMW-Home Visiting longitudinal study. The analysis of this new timepoint provides an exciting first snapshot of child language development at 2.5 to 3 years of age.

Results continue to show that TMW parents provided more enriched home language environments for their toddlers after the intervention than the Control parents. Taken a step further, by observing parent-child interactions at home during free play and book sharing, we were able to demonstrate an increase in back and forth conversational interactions.












This finding is meaningful because it mirrors a growing body of research that points to the importance of conversational turn-taking in building children’s language and cognitive skills.

In the News

TMW Center co-directors, Dr. Dana Suskind and Professor John List, have been in the news talking about the need for more evidence-based policy in large scale intervention implementations.

In a recent conversation with Forbes, Suskind and List talked about the TMW Center’s public health approach to early learning. The duo shared insights on the obstacles facing effective scaling, and how the TMW Center’s first community-wide demonstration project aims to overcome such challenges of scale.

In The Atlantic, List and fellow University of Chicago economist, Eszther Czibor discussed how policy makers and researchers can work together to deliver better population-level outcomes. The economists argued that many policies draw from underdeveloped research due, in part, to the quick turnaround nature of political cycles. Their antidote to this? Fostering a political environment that encourages evaluation and continuous learning, in which rigorous experiments can focus on scalability and generalizability.

Through these conversations, as well as others with leaders in this field, it is clear that continuous feedback loops are essential for researchers to better understand what aspects of interventions work and which ones do not. We hope to keep the conversation going and to do our part to support evidence-based policy.

Translating Research into Real-World Practice in Early Childhood

The TMW Center is honored to be organizing and hosting the inaugural year of the Kenneth C. Griffin Applied Economics Incubator, during the 2019-2020 academic year. In partnership with UChicago’s Department of Economics, year one of the Incubator will focus on early childhood research and the science of scaling evidence-based interventions within the field. TMW Center co-director John List shares some early details in the following Q&A:

What was the genesis of the Incubator and what will it entail?

The idea behind the Applied Economics Incubator is to elevate the status of the University of Chicago as a hub for generating key initiatives that drive broad-based thought and policy changes.

What do you hope to accomplish with this project?

During year one, if we can link research from different disciplines and connect thought leaders from economics, psychology, sociology, medicine and public policy to stimulate new ideas that develop innovative approaches in early childhood and the science of scaling, then we will have met our goal.

Why make the focus of the inaugural Incubator early childhood? 

Much of the research being done in economics right now centers on these early inputs and how they affect a child’s outcomes later in life. I have several colleagues here in the Department of Economics, and departments throughout UChicago who have been focusing their research agenda on how to improve educational outcomes for children, particularly from low socio-economic situations. I was confident that by choosing early childhood, I would have their support and willingness to collaborate during this first year.

What fields can we expect to see represented in the Incubator and how did you arrive at the decision to nominate the TMW Center to spearhead its debut?

The TMW Center was a natural choice because of the overlap it has to evidence-based economics. The TMW Center is impressive because we use evidence-based interventions and tools to collect data in order to continuously improve interventions.  We are committed to bringing these interventions to larger communities and have worked hard on researching the science of scaling—a very interesting and confounding issue in the world of economics right now.

What does the Incubator mean for the TMW Center?

The aim is to make the University of Chicago a hub for early childhood learning, with the TMW Center at the core. The hope is that the TMW Center becomes synonymous with early childhood research and development.

Can you share a tease about who or what we can look forward to seeing as a part of this?

We are working on a large publication that will target academics as well as those in the world of public policy. This book will look at the science of scaling, as seen through the lens of early childhood. There will be conferences, visitors, and a special issue of the Journal of Political Economy that will focus on the economics of early childhood. We plan to have academic visitors from across the U.S., as well as a few from Europe, who will immerse themselves for a short period of time here on campus, in order allow for the sharing of ideas through research collaborations, lectures, and mentorship. 

Community-Wide Demonstration Project Now Underway

Our community-wide demonstration project, in partnership with Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County (CSC), is moving forward. Since announcing the project back in October 2018, we’ve been working alongside CSC to develop relationships across the community at birthing centers, pediatric clinics, and other local organizations. Later this month, we’ll launch our first intervention, TMW-Newborn, with English- and Spanish-speaking families at St. Mary’s Hospital in Palm Beach.

One of the primary goals of this project is to understand what it takes to scale interventions and we recognize that technology will be at the core of this work. To this end, we have been investing in the development of a tech platform that will support the delivery and data collection of not only the community-wide demonstration project, but future TMW Center work. We are collaborating with Daylight, a human-centered design firm, and Blackbird, a digital product studio, both based on the west coast, to guide these efforts.

With an eye on 2020, we’ve already begun early preparation for TMW-Well Baby implementation in Palm Beach County, followed by TMW-Let’s Talk. As always, we’ll continue to update with our progress.