How Texas Policymakers Understand and Support Early Childhood Brain Development: Learnings from a Recent Survey
The most rapid period of brain development occurs from the prenatal stage through age 3.1 Experiences during these years have a lasting impact on children’s learning abilities, behavior, and overall health.2 Positive influences, including a loving and nurturing caregiver or access to high-quality child care, can strengthen early childhood brain development (ECBD) and foster advantageous life outcomes.3 By funding and regulating public services and programs to help children learn and strengthen families, policy plays a unique role in ECBD.
The Episcopal Health Foundation partnered with TexProtects and Child Trends to conduct a survey to learn what state and local policymakers in Texas know about ECBD, and how they use that information in their decision making. This fact sheet provides a brief overview of key findings from the 60 policymakers who responded to the survey.4
1 Kolb, B. (2009). Brain and Behavioral Plasticity in the Developing Brain: Neuroscience and Public Policy. Pediatrics & child health, 14(10), 651–652. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2807801/
2 Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. (2016). From Best Practices to Breakthrough Impacts: A Science-Based Approach to Building a More Promising Future for Young Children and Families. Retrieved from https://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/from-best-practices-to-breakthrough-impacts/
3 National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. (2012). The Science of Neglect: The Persistent Absence of Responsive Care Disrupts the Developing Brain: Working Paper No. 12. Retrieved from https://46y5eh11fhgw3ve3ytpwxt9r-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/The-Science-of-Neglect-The-Persistent-Absence-of-Responsive-Care-Disrupts-the-Developing-Brain.pdf
4 The study team held four focus groups in different regions of the state with 79 early childhood stakeholders, conducted one-on-one phone interviews with four Texas policymakers, and surveyed Texas state legislators, county representatives, mayors, and city council members across political parties.