National Forum on the Science of Early Childhood Program Evaluation

Investigator: Greg Duncan

Graduate Student Researchers: James Leak, Weilin Li

Funding: Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation

The National Scientific Council on the Developing Child focuses its work primarily on elucidating and translating the core concepts of development. In contrast, relatively little attention has been directed toward the extensive and continuously growing database on the impacts of early childhood programs. This project aims to broaden the Council's work by incorporating the analysis, synthesis, translation, and dissemination of empirical program outcome data.

The overarching objective of this initiative is to learn more about what early childhood programs work best and for whom. This will be achieved through a critical analysis of evaluation evidence on existing services (including both large-scale programs and smaller demonstration projects) as well as from other social programs that are not designed explicitly to improve children's outcomes but may nonetheless inform effective early childhood and family supports. To this end, the Forum's work focuses on key mediators of child development, including both risk and protective factors, in conjunction with issues related to cost-effectiveness and other economic considerations.