End of Year Remarks

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Since transitioning to remote work in March, the TMW Center has started each week with a brief virtual team meeting. It’s been a bright spot in a challenging year; a time to connect and see familiar faces, if only on a computer screen. Our Chief Operating Officer Katie Dealy kicks off each meeting by telling us how many weeks we have been working remotely. I was shocked when she announced in our last team meeting before the holidays that we had reached 40 weeks! That’s a long time. And yet—we managed to accomplish so much!

As parents, educators, and caregivers were thrust into impossible circumstances this year, it was clear that they needed support more than ever. So, we prioritized finding new ways to get TMW Center resources out to communities and into the hands of more families and caregivers. We quickly adapted many of our in-person interventions to support virtual implementation and increased efforts to disseminate our free digital resources, which—like all of our interventions—equip parents and caregivers with important information about foundational brain development as well as easy-to-use strategies to optimize that development.

The response was awe-inspiring. Parents and caregivers across the country continued to enthusiastically embrace their power to nurture children’s foundational development in the face of tremendous challenges.

Although those challenges will not disappear at the stroke of midnight on January 1, we know now with certainty that the new year will bring new hope and new progress toward the end of this pandemic. As vaccination doses begin to arrive in communities around the world, I feel tremendous optimism for the year ahead and tremendous gratitude—for those who made this historic public health accomplishment possible and for those who made the TMW Center’s accomplishments possible as well. I hope you have a safe and happy New Year!

Warmest regards,
Dana Suskind
Co-Director, TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health

Support the TMW Center

In this season of gratitude and giving, please consider a financial gift to the TMW Center. Support to the TMW Center will enable our research and operations, and help ensure more families and providers have access to resources they can use to support their children’s brain development and fulfill the promise of brighter futures.

If you would like to make a gift, please click below, select Thirty Million Words® Initiative from the drop-down menu and complete the form.
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Book Talk: A Good Time to be Born with Dr. Perri Klass

In conjunction with the Becker Friedman Institute and the Seminary Co-Op Bookstore, the TMW Center is hosting a special event to celebrate the publication of A Good Time To Be Born: How Science and Public Health Gave Children a Future. In this fascinating book, Dr. Perri Klass draws on history, medicine, and stories of individual determination, to document the fight against child mortality and reveal the ways it has transformed parenting, doctoring and modern living.

On November 17 at 6:00 p.m. CT, Dr. Klass will join TMW Center Co-Director Dr. Dana Suskind for an in-depth discussion of the astonishing human achievement at the heart of this book.

What can we learn from the scientists, public health advocates, and groundbreaking women doctors who brought new scientific ideas to families over the past century? How can we apply those lessons to the greatest public health crises facing us today? And if we don’t, are we at risk of forfeiting the incredible gains we’ve achieved?

Register for the virtual event here.

Any Time is 3Ts Time in the Spotlight

This year, thanks to generous support from the PNC Foundation, and in collaboration with PNC Grow Up Great®, we launched Any Time is 3Ts Time, a multimedia campaign that aims to raise awareness of the 3Ts and support parents in fostering their children’s foundational brain development. PNC Grow Up Great is a comprehensive, bilingual program designed to help prepare children – particularly underserved children – for success in school and life (www.pncgrowupgreat.com).

The 3Ts are a simple yet powerful tool to translate critical brain research into easy-to-use strategies: Tune In, Talk More, Take Turns. The Any Time is 3Ts Time campaign includes a suite of free online, print, and in-person resources available in both English and Spanish, including the3Ts.org, a digital tool that puts the knowledge of the 3Ts directly in parents and caregivers’ hands, and Let’s Talk!, a parent group program designed for deeper engagement.

Since launching the campaign with partner organizations in March, roughly 1,000 parents and caregivers have engaged with the 3Ts digital tool, more than 160 community organizations have signed up to access resources in the 3Ts Partner Portal, and we have piloted the Let’s Talk! group program in Chicago and St. Louis.

This fall, PNC is sharing the campaign with millions of additional families in PNC markets. We couldn’t be more excited to help families access practical resources and strategies to best support the critical brain development of their youngest learners. And we couldn’t be more grateful for PNC Grow Up Great’s support and partnership.

What Parents Know Matters

Earlier this year, TMW Center Co-Director Dana Suskind and Research Director Christy Leung published an exciting study with important implications for the early childhood field in The Journal of Pediatrics. The study, “What Parents Know Matters: Parental Knowledge at Birth Predicts Caregiving Behaviors at 9 Months” demonstrates that parents who have more knowledge of infant development are more likely to foster their babies’ social-emotional and cognitive growth. In a new video highlighting these findings, Dr. Suskind explains what makes them especially exciting: they point to a variable in early childhood development that we can address. By systematically sharing information about brain development with all parents and caregivers—from day one—we can make critical progress toward educational equity.

Please watch and share the video below.

What We’re Reading

  • A new national poll from the First Five Years Fund (FFYF) suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic has opened Americans’ eyes to the importance of child care for families. The survey found that regardless of political party, respondents overwhelmingly agreed that high-quality, affordable child care for families with young children is an essential service—just like healthcare and education.
  • As experts warn that we may be heading into the most challenging phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re revisiting this LEGO Foundation blog post by Dr. Bo Stjerne Thomsen on the power of play to help children cope with change. It offers six evidence-based approaches to using creativity and active engagement in play and argues that making room for play right now is not just okay, it’s more important than ever. Of course, we recognize that this is an incredibly challenging, stressful, and exhausting time for many parents and caregivers. We encourage all caregivers to do whatever they can to care for themselves so that they might be able to approach play—and other forms of child engagement—with intention and clarity.

Scaling Book is Off to the Presses

As part of the TMW Center’s commitment to advancing the science of scaling—that is, understanding how experimental insights can effectively be scaled—in the early childhood field, we have curated an edited volume dedicated to the topic. Featuring contributions from an esteemed and diverse group of authors, including economists, psychiatrists, physicians, field researchers, and early childhood practitioners, this book will provide actionable blueprints for more effectively approaching scaling. Last week, we submitted a final draft of the manuscript—all 21 chapters—to the book’s publisher, Routledge. This project has been a labor of love for many of us and we can’t wait to see The Scale-Up Effect in Early Childhood and Public Policy: Why Interventions Lose Impact at Scale and What We Can Do About It hit shelves in June 2021! For a list of authors and chapter topics, you can view the book’s table of contents here.

3Ts-Let’s Talk Dads Continues in Phoenix

We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Southwest Human Development and the Steve Nash Foundation and to offer 3Ts-Let’s Talk Dads to even more fathers in the Phoenix region. Let’s Talk Dads is a four-session, facilitator-led program implemented with fathers only. Designed to work in a variety of group settings, the current sessions are being offered virtually in accordance with public health guidance.

Like all TMW Center interventions, Let’s Talk Dads translates emerging brain science into strategies parents and caregivers can use in everyday settings. The four sessions utilize group discussion, parent-child videos, and behavioral nudges are used to support adult behavior change. Southwest Human Development is currently recruiting dads to participate in the third wave of the program, which will be offered to two groups of 10-12 participants each. Given that there was a waitlist to participate in the last cohort, we anticipate interest to be high and we look forward to welcoming a new group of fathers to the program!

Sentenced at Birth: The Invisible Toll of Mass Incarceration on Childhood Development

As the United States’ carceral state has come under increased scrutiny amid skyrocketing incarceration rates, the children of incarcerated parents have remained in the shadows. They are collateral damage of a broken and racist system. In a new column published by the Hechinger Report, TMW Center co-director Dana Suskind explores the insidious ways in which parental incarceration affects those children—including its potential disruption of healthy early brain development.

You can read the column here and we encourage you to please share it using the following sample social media posts—or crafting your own!

What We’re Reading

The Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap, from the Prenatal-3 Policy Impact Center at the University of Texas Austin, which describes the Roadmap this way:

The inaugural 2020 Roadmap provides baseline information on the current status of each state’s prenatal-to-3 system of care and will be updated annually to monitor:

  • states’ progress toward adopting and fully implementing the effective policies and strategies;
  • changes in the generosity of state benefits;
  • progress toward serving all children and families who are eligible for state benefits;
  • changes in the overall wellbeing of children and families in each state; and
  • efforts to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in outcomes.