06:34pm Monday 25 May 2020

UNC researchers developing new model of care for poor children, families

The institute, based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is hosting a series of working meetings this week with national experts in child health and development.

Researchers and scientists will discuss recent findings about young children’s cognitive, language and socio-emotional development, as well as physical health.

Samuel L. Odom, Ph.D., institute director, said there is a growing need for effective programs that target infants and toddlers who are being raised in poverty. Recent research shows that the “achievement gap” – the disparity in early development, health and eventually academic performance – emerges as early as 9 months of age. Studies such as FPG’s historic Abecedarian Project have demonstrated that high quality earlier learning environments can have a long-lasting impact on children in poverty.

Odom, also a professor of education in the UNC School of Education, said the institute has a strong history of advancing knowledge about early interventions for at-risk children, and the current infant-toddler initiative will translate the most current scientific knowledge into practice.

“There is a vast amount of research that shows that early intervention can have a big impact on children living in poverty,” he said. “The most well-known models, such as Abecedarian and High Scope, were developed 30 to 40 years ago and have served us well. Yet, the most current developmental and health science has much to offer in creating a 21st century model of early care and intervention.”

The Infant-Toddler Child Care Working Meeting will kick off FPG’s infant-toddler initiative. National experts will present on the basic science concerning early development, discuss findings related to gaps in functioning between children raised in poverty and other children, and explore the implications of this research for model development. The meeting will be followed by program development work which will culminate in testing the effectiveness of the new program in community settings.

The initiative’s team leaders are Odom, Elizabeth Pungello, Ph.D., and Nicole Gardner-Neblett, Ph.D.

FPG Child Development Institute website: www.fpg.unc.edu.

FPG Child Development Institute contact: Anne Hainsworth, (919) 966-0867,

[email protected]

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News Services contact:
Patric Lane, (919) 962-8596,

[email protected]

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