The Brain Architects

By Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University

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Healthy development in the early years provides the building blocks for educational achievement, economic productivity, responsible citizenship, strong communities, and successful parenting of the next generation. By improving children’s environments, relationships, and experiences early in life, society can address many costly problems, including incarceration, homelessness, and the failure to complete high school. But if you’re a parent, caregiver, teacher, or someone who works with children every day, you may be wondering, “Where do I start?!” From brain architecture to toxic stress to serve and return, The Brain Architects, a new podcast from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University will explore what we can do during this incredibly important period to ensure that all children have a strong foundation for future development.

Episode Date
COVID-19 Special Edition: Mental Health Vital Signs
17:07
The devastating toll of the pandemic has underscored the critical importance of connecting what science is telling us to the lived experiences of people and communities. In March of 2020, we recorded episodes exploring the impact the coronavirus pandemic could have on child development. Now, a year later, we wanted to continue these conversations and discuss what we've learned, what needs to change, and where we go from here. Contents Podcast Speakers Additional Resources Transcript In the final episode in this special series, host Sally Pfitzer speaks with Dr. Nancy Rotter, a pediatric psychologist and the Director of Psychology in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Ambulatory Care Division at Massachusetts General Hospital. They discuss how the pandemic changed conversations around mental health, why we need to integrate mental health into the context of overall health, and what caregivers can do to help children prepare for the lessening of restrictions and the return to school. Subscribe below via your podcast platform of choice to receive all new episodes as soon as they’re released. Speakers Sally Pfitzer, Podcast Host Dr. Nancy Rotter, Pediatric Psychologist and Director of Psychology, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Ambulatory Care Division at Massachusetts General Hospital; Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School Additional Resources Resources from the Center on the Developing Child The Brain Architects Podcast: COVID-19 Special Edition: Mental Health in a Locked-Down World Q&A: The Coronavirus Pandemic: Mental Health One Year Later Re-Envisioning, Not Just Rebuilding: Looking Ahead to a Post-COVID-19 World Working Paper 15: Connecting the Brain to the Rest of the Body: Early Childhood Development and Lifelong Health Are Deeply Intertwined InBrief: Connecting the Brain to the Rest of the Body A Guide to COVID-19 and Early Childhood Development Resources Resources recommended by Dr. Nancy Rotter Interim Guidance on Supporting the Emotional and Behavioral Health Needs of Children, Adolescents and Families During the COVID-19 Pandemic Mothers—and fathers—report mental, physical health declines Mental Health Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Update Depression and anxiety in pregnancy during COVID-19: A rapid review and meta-analysis COVID-19's Disproportionate Effects on Children of Color Will Challenge the Next Generation A Guide to Mental Health Resources for COVID-19 How to Talk to Your Children About the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Preparing Children for When Their Parents Return to Work National Alliance on Mental Health: Mental Health By the Numbers Transcript Sally: Welcome to The Brain Architects, a podcast from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. I'm your host Sally Pfitzer. In March of 2020, we recorded episodes exploring the impact the coronavirus pandemic could have on child development. You may remember we discussed the importance of self-care for caregivers, and the importance of physical distancing, not social distancing.  And now a year later, we wanted to continue those conversations and discuss what we've learned, what needs to change, and where we go from here. Joining us on today's podcast, we have Dr. Nancy Rotter. She's a pediatric psychologist and the Director of Psychology in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Ambulatory Care Division, at Mass General Hospital. Thanks so much for being with us today, Nancy. Dr. Rotter: Thanks for having me, Sally. Sally: So, the pandemic has made conversations about mental health more common and perhaps even less stigmatized. How do we make sure that this perspective and these conversations continue even as vaccines become available and restrictions are lessened? Dr. Rotter: You know, I agree that there has been some shifting over time in terms of awareness and acknowledgement about mental health and specifically...
Jun 16, 2021
COVID-19 Special Edition: Building from Strengths: Post-Pandemic Partnerships in Health Care
14:02
The devastating toll of the pandemic has underscored the critical importance of connecting what science is telling us to the lived experiences of people and communities. In March of 2020, we recorded episodes exploring the impact the coronavirus pandemic could have on child development. Now, a year later, we wanted to continue these conversations and discuss what we've learned, what needs to change, and where we go from here. Contents Podcast Speakers Additional Resources Transcript In the third episode in this 4-part special series, host Sally Pfitzer speaks with Dr. Renée Boynton-Jarrett, the founding Director of Vital Village Networks at Boston Medical Center and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine. They discuss the cost of failing to address structural inequities with sustainable and comprehensive policy changes, the vital role community leaders played during the pandemic, and why health care systems need to demonstrate trustworthiness. The next and final episode of this special podcast series will focus on the pandemic's impact on the mental health system. Subscribe below via your podcast platform of choice to receive all new episodes as soon as they’re released. Speakers Sally Pfitzer, Podcast Host Dr. Renée Boynton-Jarrett, Founding Director of Vital Village Networks at Boston Medical Center and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine Additional Resources Vital Village Networks The Brain Architects Podcast: COVID-19 Special Edition: Creating Communities of Opportunity Thinking About Racial Disparities in COVID-19 Impacts Through a Science-Informed, Early Childhood Lens Early Childhood Adversity, Toxic Stress, and the Impacts of Racism on the Foundations of Health Brief: Moving Upstream: Confronting Racism to Open Up Children's Potential Infographic: How Racism Can Affect Child Development Re-Envisioning, Not Just Rebuilding: Looking Ahead to a Post-COVID-19 World Working Paper 15: Connecting the Brain to the Rest of the Body: Early Childhood Development and Lifelong Health Are Deeply Intertwined InBrief: Connecting the Brain to the Rest of the Body A Guide to COVID-19 and Early Childhood Development Transcript Sally: Welcome to The Brain Architects, a podcast from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. I'm your host Sally Pfitzer. In March of 2020, we recorded episodes exploring the impact the coronavirus pandemic could have on child development. You may remember we discussed the importance of self-care for caregivers, and the importance of physical distancing, not social distancing.  And now a year later, we wanted to continue those conversations and discuss what we've learned, what needs to change, and where we go from here. On today's podcast, we have Dr. Renée Boynton-Jarrett, who is the founding Director of Vital Village Networks at Boston Medical Center and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine. So good to have you with us, Renée. Dr. Boynton-Jarrett: Delighted to be here. Thank you, Sally. Sally: Renée, in March of 2020, we spoke with Dr. David Williams, who explained that many of the disparities that we saw in the early stages of the pandemic were predictable and the result of longstanding social policies and systemic racism. From your perspective, as an expert in the field, in the past year, what have we learned about these disparities? Dr. Boynton-Jarrett: I think what Dr. Williams shared is absolutely correct. What we saw happen with the COVID-19 pandemic is it took advantage of the existing inequities and just widened those. So actually, our existing structural racism created a broader opportunity for the pandemic to disparately impact the lives, the well-being, and the health of communities of color and communities that are disproportionately impacted by structur...
Jun 10, 2021
COVID-19 Special Edition: Superheroes of Pediatric Care: Moving Beyond the Challenges of COVID-19
13:40
The devastating toll of the pandemic has underscored the critical importance of connecting what science is telling us to the lived experiences of people and communities. In March of 2020, we recorded episodes exploring the impact the coronavirus pandemic could have on child development. Now, a year later, we wanted to continue these conversations and discuss what we've learned, what needs to change, and where we go from here. Contents Podcast Speakers Additional Resources Transcript In the second episode in this 4-part special series, host Sally Pfitzer speaks with Dr. Rahil Briggs, National Director of ZERO TO THREE’s HealthySteps program. They discuss the potential impact of the pandemic on infant and toddler development, how an overstressed pediatric health care system responded, and the importance of overcoming equity challenges and public fears to resume well-child visits. Upcoming episodes of this series will feature expert speakers reflecting on the longstanding social policies and systemic racism that resulted in the pandemic disparately impacting communities of color, and the pandemic's impact on the mental health system. The experts will discuss how we can take what we learned over the past year and make meaningful changes that will improve outcomes for children and families. Listen to the first episode of this series, where Center Director, Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D. discusses what COVID-19 revealed about the needs of caregivers with young children or during pregnancy. Subscribe below via your podcast platform of choice to receive all new episodes as soon as they’re released. Speakers Sally Pfitzer, Podcast Host Dr. Rahil Briggs,  National Director of ZERO TO THREE’s HealthySteps Program Additional Resources Resources from the Center on the Developing Child Re-Envisioning, Not Just Rebuilding: Looking Ahead to a Post-COVID-19 World The Brain Architects: COVID-19 Special Edition: Self-Care Isn't Selfish Working Paper 15: Connecting the Brain to the Rest of the Body: Early Childhood Development and Lifelong Health Are Deeply Intertwined InBrief: Connecting the Brain to the Rest of the Body A Guide to COVID-19 and Early Childhood Development Resources recommended by Dr. Rahil Briggs Psychology Today: What Parents of Babies and Toddlers Need Right Now American Academy of Pediatrics: A superhero moment HealthySteps: Caring for Yourself and Young Children During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Crisis ZERO to THREE: Tips for Families: Coronavirus Rapid Assessment of Pandemic Impact on Development (RAPID) - Early Childhood USA Today: Opening 'so many doors for families': COVID-19 underscores the importance of wraparound care for new moms and children Early Childhood Depression May Impact Brain Development in Later Years Brazelton Touchpoints Center ZERO TO THREE: Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood and official DC:0-5 Training for advanced infant and early childhood mental health professionals Transcript Sally: Welcome to The Brain Architects, a podcast from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. I'm your host Sally Pfitzer. In March of 2020, we recorded episodes exploring the impact the coronavirus pandemic could have on child development. You may remember we discussed the importance of self-care for caregivers, and the importance of physical distancing, not social distancing.  And now a year later, we wanted to continue those conversations and discuss what we've learned, what needs to change, and where we go from here. Joining us on today's podcast is Dr. Rahil Briggs, National Director of ZERO TO THREE's HealthySteps program. Rahil, thanks so much for being here with us today and just for timing, I'm going to jump right into our first question. What can we tell parents and caregivers about the potential effects the pande...
Jun 02, 2021
COVID-19 Special Edition: How Do We Rebuild and Re-Envision Early Childhood Services?
13:27
The devastating toll of the pandemic has underscored the critical importance of connecting what science is telling us to the lived experiences of people and communities. In March of 2020, we recorded episodes exploring the impact the coronavirus pandemic could have on child development. Now, a year later, we wanted to continue these conversations and discuss what we've learned, what needs to change, and where we go from here. Contents Podcast Speakers Additional Resources Transcript The first guest in this 4-part special series is Center Director Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D. He and host Sally Pfitzer discuss what COVID-19 revealed about the needs of caregivers with young children or during pregnancy, what we learned about the importance of science over the course of the pandemic, and how we can make changes going forward. Upcoming episodes of this series will feature expert speakers reflecting on the pandemic's impact on pediatric and mental health systems, and the longstanding social policies and systemic racism that resulted in the pandemic disparately impacting communities of color. The experts will discuss how we can take what we learned over the past year and make meaningful changes that will improve outcomes for children and families. Subscribe below via your podcast platform of choice to receive all new episodes as soon as they’re released. Speakers Sally Pfitzer, Podcast Host Dr. Jack Shonkoff, Center Director Additional Resources Resources from the Center on the Developing Child Re-Envisioning, Not Just Rebuilding: Looking Ahead to a Post-COVID-19 World The Brain Architects: COVID-19 Special Edition: A Different World Working Paper 15: Connecting the Brain to the Rest of the Body: Early Childhood Development and Lifelong Health Are Deeply Intertwined InBrief: Connecting the Brain to the Rest of the Body Health and Learning Are Deeply Interconnected in the Body: An Action Guide for Policymakers What Is Inflammation? And Why Does it Matter for Child Development? How Racism Can Affect Child Development Moving Upstream: Confronting Racism to Open Up Children's Potential A Guide to COVID-19 and Early Childhood Development Transcript Sally: Welcome to The Brain Architects, a podcast from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. I'm your host Sally Pfitzer. In March of 2020, we recorded episodes exploring the impact the coronavirus pandemic could have on child development. You may remember we discussed the importance of self-care for caregivers, and the importance of physical distancing, not social distancing.  And now a year later, we wanted to continue those conversations and discuss what we've learned, what needs to change, and where we go from here. Joining us today is Dr. Jack Shonkoff, Director of the Center on the Developing Child. Jack, we really appreciate you being here, and I know we have a lot to cover, so let's jump right in. Could you tell us what COVID-19 has revealed about the needs of young children, families and people who are pregnant? Dr. Shonkoff: So immediately, we saw the difference between people who had access to resources that helped them get through and those who before the pandemic were always at the edge and that this put families over the edge in terms of meeting basic needs—food, clothing, housing.  But then, there's the other universal experience of the critical importance of supportive relationships—the critical importance of extended family, neighbors, friends—and the extent to which every parent, regardless of your circumstances, cannot parent a child alone. And the social isolation that so many people felt, from the poorest to the wealthiest. And so, I think if there's anything good to take out of this past year, it's a recognition of the universal needs that all families have to provide a healthy environment for their children,
May 19, 2021
Connecting Health and Learning Part II: The Implications
44:37
How do we use the science of early childhood development to implement practical strategies and overcome longstanding barriers in the early childhood field? How can we ensure that families' voices are heard when we create policies or programs? Contents Podcast Panelists Additional Resources Transcript To kick off this episode, Center Director Dr. Jack Shonkoff describes what the science means for policymakers, system leaders, care providers, and caregivers. This is followed by a discussion among a distinguished panel of experts, including Cindy Mann (Manatt Health), Dr. Aaliyah Samuel (Northwest Evaluation Association), and Jane Witowski (Help Me Grow). The panelists discuss how we can break down the silos in the early childhood field, policies affecting prenatal-three, and how policies can change to address the stressors inflicted by poverty, community violence, and racism. Panelists Cindy Mann Dr. Aaliyah Samuel Jane Witowski Additional Resources Resources from the Center on the Developing Child The Brain Architects: Connecting Health & Learning Part I: The Science Working Paper 15: Connecting the Brain to the Rest of the Body: Early Childhood Development and Lifelong Health Are Deeply Intertwined InBrief: Connecting the Brain to the Rest of the Body Health and Learning Are Deeply Interconnected in the Body: An Action Guide for Policymakers What Is Inflammation? And Why Does it Matter for Child Development? How Racism Can Affect Child Development Resources from the Panelists Testing America's Freedom Podcast Help Me Grow National Center Transcript Sally: Welcome to the Brain Architects, a podcast from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. I'm your host, Sally Pfitzer. Our Center believes that advances in science can provide a powerful source of new ideas that can improve outcomes for children and families. We want to help you apply the science of early childhood development to your everyday interactions with children and take what you're hearing from our experts and panels and apply it to your everyday work.  Today, we'll discuss how the science we shared in our previous episode, on the early years and lifelong health, can change the way we think about early childhood policy and practice, and what this shift means for policymakers, practitioners, and caregivers. So, I'd like to welcome back Dr. Jack Shonkoff, Professor of Child Health and Development and the Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. Hi, Jack. Welcome back.  Jack: Hey, Sally.  Sally:  So we talked in the last episode about how the brain is connected to the rest of the body, and especially how the early years really matter when it comes to lifelong health. What does this science mean for policymakers, system leaders, or even caregivers?  Jack: That's a really important question, Sally. From the beginning of the early childhood field, it's always been focused on early learning and improving children's readiness to succeed in school. In the policy world, it's in education policy, comes out of the education budget. For people who work in early childhood programs, and for parents, it's about programs that encourage and provide rich learning opportunities for children to develop early literacy competencies.  But the mindset shift here is that it's not just about early learning in school—it's about the foundations of physical and mental health. It's not just about improving outcomes for greater economic productivity—better educational achievement. It's also about decreasing the likelihood that you'll develop heart disease or hypertension, or diabetes, or a wide range of the most common chronic illnesses in society. It's not just a matter of return on investment—asking “So, how much more economically productive will the population be? How much will we save in incarceration?
Jan 20, 2021
Connecting Health and Learning Part I: The Science
38:37
How do our biological systems work together to respond to chronic stress? What do these responses mean for early learning and lifelong health? And when we say that early experiences matter, what do we mean by early? This episode of The Brain Architects podcast addresses all these questions and more! Contents Podcast Panelists Additional Resources Transcript To kick off this episode, Center Director Dr. Jack Shonkoff describes the body's stress response system, how our biological systems act as a team when responding to chronic stress, and the effects chronic stress can have on lifelong health. This is followed by a discussion among a panel of scientists including Dr. Nicki Bush (University of California-San Francisco),  Dr. Damien Fair (University of Minnesota),  and Dr. Fernando Martinez (University of Arizona). The panelists discuss how our bodies respond to adversity, inflammation's role in the stress response system, the effects of stress during the prenatal period and first few years after birth, and how we can use this science to prevent long-term impacts on our health. Panelists Dr. Nicki Bush Dr. Damien Fair Dr. Fernando Martinez Additional Resources Resources from the Center on the Developing Child Brain Architects: Connecting Health & Learning Part II: The Implications Working Paper 15: Connecting the Brain to the Rest of the Body: Early Childhood Development and Lifelong Health Are Deeply Intertwined InBrief: Connecting the Brain to the Rest of the Body Health and Learning Are Deeply Interconnected in the Body: An Action Guide for Policymakers What Is Inflammation? And Why Does it Matter for Child Development? How Racism Can Affect Child Development Articles Biel, M.G., Tang, M.H., & Zuckerman, B. (2020). Pediatric mental health care must be family mental health care. JAMA Pediatrics, 174(6):519-520. Boyce, W.T., Levitt, P., Martinez, F.D., McEwen, B.S., & Shonkoff, J.P. Genes, environments, and time: The biology of adversity and resilience. Pediatrics. In press. Bush, N.R., Savitz, J., Coccia, M., et al. (2020). Maternal stress during pregnancy predicts infant infectious and noninfectious illness. The Journal of Pediatrics. Graignic-Philippe, R., Dayan, J., Chokron, S., et al. (2014). Effects of prenatal stress on fetal and child development: A critical literature review. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 43, 137-162. LeWinn, K.Z., Bush, N.R., Batra, A.B., et al. (2020). Identification of modifiable social and behavioral factors associated with child cognitive performance. JAMA Pediatrics, 174(11):1063-1072. O’Connor, T.G., Monk, C., & Fitelson, E.M. (2014). Practitioner review: Maternal mood in pregnancy and child development: Implications for child psychology and psychiatry. J Child Psychol Psychiatry, 55(2): 99-111. Racine, N., Plamondon, A., Madigan, S., et al. (2018). Maternal adverse childhood experiences and infant development. Pediatrics, 141(4). Shonkoff, J.P., Boyce, W.T., Levitt, P., P., Martinez, F.D., & McEwen, B.S. Leveraging the biology of adversity and resilience to transform pediatric practice. Pediatrics. In press. Shonkoff, J.P., Slopen, N., & Williams, D. Early childhood adversity, toxic stress, and the impacts of racism on the foundations of health. Annual Review of Public Health. In press. Transcript Sally: Welcome to The Brain Architects, a podcast from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. I'm your host Sally Pfitzer. Our center believes that advances in science can provide a powerful source of new ideas that can improve outcomes for children and families. We want to help you apply the science of early childhood development to your everyday interactions with children and take what you're hearing from our experts and panels and apply it to your everyday work. In today's episode, we'll discuss how early experiences,
Dec 08, 2020
COVID-19 Special Edition: Mental Health in a Locked-Down World
23:08
While some countries and U.S. states are beginning to reopen businesses and other gathering places, the pandemic is still very much with us. Physical distancing will likely be a way of life until a vaccine for COVID-19 is widely available. So much change, including the threat of illness, and grief of those who have lost loved ones, means that mental health is a great concern. Fortunately, there are things we can do to support our mental health at this time, especially when caring for young children or other family members. In this episode of The Brain Architects, host Sally Pfitzer speaks with Dr. Karestan Koenen, Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Dr. Archana Basu, Research Associate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and a clinical psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. They discuss what supporting your own mental health can look like, as well as ways to support children you care for at this time. They also talk about what mental health professionals all over the world are doing to help take care of our societies in the midst of the pandemic, and how they're preparing for the challenges that come next. Speakers Sally Pfitzer, Podcast Host Dr. Archana Basu, Research Associate, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and clinical psychologist, Massachusetts General Hospital Dr. Karestan Koenen, Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Additional Resources International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies: Self-Care for Providers International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies: Vicarious Trauma Toolkit Massachusetts General Hospital: How to Talk to Your Children About the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Massachusetts General Hospital: Parenting At a Challenging Time: Supporting children facing the illness/ loss of a loved one Massachusetts General Hospital: Psychiatry guide to Mental Health Resources for COVID-19 National Child Traumatic Stress Network pandemic resources SAMHSA Disaster Distress 24/7 Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text 'TalkWithUs' to 66746 Transcript Sally: Welcome to The Brain Architects, a podcast from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. I’m your host, Sally Pfitzer. Since our last podcast series was released, things have changed drastically as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. During this unprecedented time, we’d like to share resources and provide guidance that you may find helpful. So, we are creating a series of podcast episodes that address COVID-19 and child development. This episode is the fifth in our series, and todays guests are Dr. Karestan Koenen, Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Dr. Archana Basu, Research Associate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Clinical Psychologist and Massachusetts General Hospital. Thank you both for being here I’m really looking forward to the conversation. Dr. Koenen: Thank you Sally. It's great to be here. Dr. Basu: Thank you so much. Sally: So Karestan, what makes this pandemic different from other traumatic events that many people have experienced in terms of mental health? Dr. Koenen: There are a number of characteristics that make the COVID-19 pandemic different than other traumatic events, even than other disasters. I actually lived in New York City during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and I’ve seen some similarities in terms of this in that things were shut down, there was a pervasive feeling of threat, there was loss of life, and it was very disruptive and it was something that people really – in New York, anyway – talked about for a long time. It persisted and affected everyone in the city. What’s different about this is the length of time people are being affected, how pervasive it is in terms of our community but the state, nationally,
May 19, 2020
COVID-19 Special Edition: Domestic Violence and Shelter-In-Place
15:37
Shelter-in-place orders are meant to help protect our communities from the current coronavirus pandemic. But for some people, home isn't always a safe place. For those who are experiencing domestic violence, or believe they know someone one who is, what options are available to stay both physically healthy and safe from violence? In this fourth episode of our COVID-19 series of The Brain Architects, host Sally Pfitzer speaks with Dr. Tien Ung, Program Director for Impact and Learning at FUTURES without Violence. Prior to her work at FUTURES, Tien spent five years as the Director of Leadership and Programs at the Center on the Developing Child. Tien discusses important, practical steps those at home can take to keep themselves and their children safe, as well as strategies others can use if they think someone they know may be experiencing domestic violence. She also addresses the resilience of survivors, and what our communities can do both during and after COVID to listen to and engage in real responsive relationships with adults and children alike. The next episode of this special podcast series will focus on the mental health implications of a global pandemic. Subscribe below via your podcast platform of choice to receive it as soon as it's released. A note on this episode: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). Speakers Sally Pfitzer, Podcast Host Dr. Tien Ung, Program Director, Impact and Learning, FUTURES without Violence Additional Resources Hotlines For a list of state/territory/tribal domestic violence coalitions, please visit: https://ncadv.org/state-coalitions. Anti-Violence Project (LGBTQ) Hotline: 1-212-714-1141 Casa de Esperanza: https://casadeesperanza.org/ — 1-651-772-1611 ChildHelp National Child Abuse Hotline: https://www.childhelp.org/ — 1-800-4A CHILD (422-4453) Crisis Text Line: https://www.crisistextline.org/ — Text home to 741741 Love Is Respect: https://www.loveisrespect.org/ — 1-866-331-9474 National Domestic Violence Hotline: https://www.thehotline.org — 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) National Sexual Assault Hotline: https://www.rainn.org/ — 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ — 1-800-273-8255 StrongHearts Native Helpline: https://www.strongheartshelpline.org/ — 1-844-7NATIVE (762-8483) The Northwest Network: https://www.nwnetwork.org/ The Trevor Project: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/ — 1-866-488-7386 Tools and Guides "Caring Relationships, Healthy You" safety card: https://store.futureswithoutviolence.org/index.php/product/caring-relationships-lgbq-safety-card/ Changing Minds - Preventing and healing childhood trauma: https://changingmindsnow.org Coaching Boys Into Men: https://www.coachescorner.org Educate Health Professionals on How to Respond to Domestic Violence: https://ipvhealth.org/health-professionals/educate-providers/ "Hanging Out or Hooking Up" safety card: https://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/hanging-out-or-hooking-up-teen-safety-card/ Promising Futures: Best Practices for Serving Children, Youth and Parents Experiencing Domestic Violence: http://promising.futureswithoutviolence.org Ways to help children and adults living with violence: https://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/wp-content/uploads/Futures_Resources-updated.pdf Transcript Sally: Welcome to The Brain Architects, a podcast from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. I’m your host, Sally Pfitzer. Since our last podcast series was released, things have changed drastically as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. During this unprecedented time, we’d like to share resources and provide guidance that you may find helpful. So, we are creating a series of podcast episodes that address COVID-19 and...
May 12, 2020
COVID-19 Special Edition: Creating Communities of Opportunity
18:37
While the current coronavirus pandemic is affecting all of us, it isn't affecting all of us equally. Some communities—especially communities of color—are feeling the brunt of the virus more than others, in terms of higher rates of infection as well as economic fallout, among many other ways. In this third special COVID-19 episode of The Brain Architects podcast, host Sally Pfitzer is joined by Dr. David Williams, the Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Professor of African and African American Studies, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Williams discusses ways in which the coronavirus pandemic is particularly affecting people of color in the U.S., and what that can mean for early childhood development. He also pinpoints the importance of creating "communities of opportunity" that will allow all families to thrive—both during and after this pandemic. Upcoming episodes of this special podcast series will focus on domestic violence, and the mental health implications of a global pandemic. Subscribe below via your podcast platform of choice to receive all new episodes as soon as they’re released. Speakers Sally Pfitzer, Podcast Host Dr. David Williams, Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Additional Resources Harvard Scholar: David R. Williams Social and Behavioral Determinants of Toxic Stress Transcript Sally: Welcome to The Brain Architects, a podcast from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. I’m your host, Sally Pfitzer. Since our last podcast series was released, things have changed drastically as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. During this unprecedented time, we’d like to share resources and provide guidance that you may find helpful. So, we are creating a series of podcast episodes that address COVID-19 and child development. This episode is the third in our series, and our guest today is Dr. David Williams, the Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health - Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Professor of African and African American Studies -Harvard Faculty Arts & Sciences. Thanks for being with us today, Dr. Williams. Dr. Williams: Thank you, it’s good for me to be here with you. Sally: Just so our listeners know, we’re recording this podcast today on a video call, so the sound quality may be different from what you’re used to hearing when we typically record this podcast in the studio. So, the data that’s coming out now that we’ve been seeing continue to reinforce the research that you have been doing for many years around racial disparities, and we’re seeing that this virus is disproportionately effecting people of color. What are you seeing now in terms of the data? Dr. Williams: We are seeing in multiple states more than half of all deaths from the Coronavirus are African American, and in virtually every state the percent of deaths of African Americans who die from the Coronavirus exceeds—it’s larger than the percent of African Americans in the population in that state. So, there is a disproportionate negative impact on African Americans in New York City, and we see a similar pattern for Hispanics. I think the important point I would like to make at the onset is that first, this is not a surprise. Two, this reflects a longstanding pattern, not just for Coronavirus but for virtually all of the leading causes of death. And that this pattern does not reflect failures on the part of the individuals, the families, and the communities that experience such disproportionate losses. Sally: I think a lot of times when we’re hearing about this data coming out, there is a missing component where people are hearing this is disproportionately affecting communities of color, but there is not a lot of talking happening right now around the ‘Why?
May 06, 2020
COVID-19 Special Edition: Self-Care Isn't Selfish
15:52
In the midst of a global pandemic, pediatricians are serving a unique role. While the coronavirus is generally showing milder effects on babies and children than on adults, there are still health concerns and considerations for infants in need of scheduled vaccinations, and kids who are home all day with parents who may be facing stressful situations. In the second episode of our special COVID-19 series of The Brain Architects, host Sally Pfitzer speaks with Dr. Rahil Briggs, National Director of ZERO TO THREE's HealthySteps program, to discuss how pediatricians are serving their patients during the pandemic, including using telehealth; why caregiver health is child health; and what she hopes the healthcare system can learn as a result of the pandemic. Upcoming episodes will focus on racial disparities in the effects of the virus, and domestic violence. Subscribe below via your podcast platform of choice to receive all new episodes as soon as they’re released. Speakers Sally Pfitzer, Podcast Host Dr. Rahil Briggs, National Director of ZERO TO THREE's HealthySteps Program Additional Resources Erikson Institute’s Fussy Baby Network: free phone consultations Healthy Steps: Caring for Yourself and Young Children During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Crisis ZERO to THREE: Tips for Families: Coronavirus Transcript Sally: Welcome to The Brain Architects, a podcast from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. I’m your host, Sally Pfitzer. Since our last podcast series was released, things have changed drastically as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. During this unprecedented time, we’d like to share resources and provide guidance that you may find helpful. So, we are creating a series of podcast episodes that address COVID-19 and child development. This episode is the second in our series, and our guest today is Dr. Rahil Briggs, the National Director of ZERO TO THREE’s HealthySteps Program. Good morning, Rahil. Dr. Briggs: Good morning, Sally. Sally: And just so our listeners know, we’re recording this podcast today on a video call, so the sound quality may be different from what you’re used to hearing when we typically record this podcast in the studio. Rahil, what are you starting to see out in the field with pediatric practices effected by this virus, particularly in the HealthySteps locations, and how are the pediatricians starting to respond to the Coronavirus situation? Dr. Briggs: Sure, thanks Sally. It’s an excellent question and honestly, depending on when listeners are catching this it may have already changed by now. The American Academy of Pediatrics is really our guide star for figuring out what’s going on and what they’re recommending, but a couple of facts on the ground really remain the same. That pediatric primary care is the main system we have for reaching young children. In a normal time, whatever that was and may be in the future, pediatric primary care reaches nearly all young children in our country. Right now, the American Academy of Pediatrics in recognition of the importance of vaccinations, and in recognition of the importance of really high quality newborn pediatric care continues to recommend actually, that families bring newborns, and bring infants and toddlers who need vaccinations into the primary care practice. So, that is pretty extraordinary and speaks to the importance of those services even with the Coronavirus swirling around. As you know, there are about 12-13 well child visits in those first three years. 7 of them occur in the first year of life, and a big chunk occur in that newborn period where they are checking everything from the bilirubin levels to maybe redoing the newborn blood stick to the weight gain and all these really critical pieces. So to your question - what are we hearing now and what are we hearing from our HealthySteps specialists who work side by side alongside the pediatricians in these practices?
Apr 28, 2020
COVID-19 Special Edition: A Different World
21:02
While the coronavirus pandemic has changed many things around the world, it has not stopped child development. In this series of special episodes of The Brain Architects podcast, we aim to share helpful resources and ideas in support of all those who are caring for children while dealing with the impacts of COVID-19. The first guest of this special series is Center Director Dr. Jack Shonkoff. He and host Sally Pfitzer discuss how to support healthy child development during a pandemic, including the importance of caring for caregivers. They also talk about what we've already learned as a result of the coronavirus, and what we hope to continue learning. Upcoming episodes of this special series will focus on how pediatricians are responding, racial disparities in the impact of the virus, and more. Subscribe below via your podcast platform of choice to receive all new episodes as soon as they’re released. Speakers Sally Pfitzer, Podcast Host Dr. Jack Shonkoff, Center Director Transcript Sally: Welcome to The Brain Architects, a podcast from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. I’m your host, Sally Pfitzer. Since our last podcast episode was released, things have changed quite drastically as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. We hope you and your loved ones are safe and well. During this unprecedented time, we would like to share resources and provide guidance that you may find helpful, so we’re creating a series of podcasts episodes that address COVID-19 and how it relates to child development. Our guest today is Center Director, Dr. Jack Shonkoff. Jack, thanks so much for joining us. Dr. Shonkoff: Thank you, Sally. It’s always a pleasure. Sally: So just so our listeners know, we’re recording this on a video call, so the sound quality will be a little different from when we are in the studio. We hope these conversations will be useful anyway. Especially to those parents, childcare providers, social workers, teachers, healthcare providers and any others who are with children every day during this crisis. So, I’ll start with the first one. Jack, how do you think the pandemic may be affecting very young children, so the infants and toddlers? There has been a lot of attention to the need for distance learning for older kids. But, what do you think about what these younger children might need? Dr. Shonkoff: That’s a really important question, Sally, because this pandemic is different from anything that any of us have experienced around the world. Basic principles of child development, basic concepts of the science that we know don’t change, then I would say from my perspective try it on both the best science we have and the best common sense that once again this is all about relationships. This is all about the environment of relationships in which young children are developing and which they are growing up. So, the risk of the conversation is how do we feel that in this context, but it’s not a difference science, it’s not a different understanding of what children need, it’s just a different world right now. Sally: Yeah. So, I am sure many of our listeners have heard this term "social distancing," but I know that it is also lately being referred to as the need for physical distancing. Can you talk a little bit more about the science behind that, and what it means for children? Dr. Shonkoff: Yeah, this is the question that I’m most concerned about. There are two different bodies of science that we are talking about right now. Normally, we talk about the science of early childhood development—science of brain development—and now we are also dealing with the science of infectious disease. It’s really physical distancing that we are talking about. Actually, social distancing is exactly what we don’t want if social distancing means that we get further apart in terms of our interactions socially as opposed to physically. Let me just talk a little bit about each. So,
Apr 21, 2020
Serve and Return: Supporting the Foundation
26:37
What is "serve and return"? What does it mean to have a "responsive relationship" with a child? How do responsive relationships support healthy brain development? And what can parents and caregivers do in their day-to-day lives to build these sorts of relationships? This episode of The Brain Architects podcast addresses all these questions and more! Contents Podcast Panelists Additional Resources Transcript Fortunately, there are many quick, easy, and free ways to create responsive relationships with children of any age. To kick off this episode, Center Director Dr. Jack Shonkoff describes the science behind how these interactions—known as "serve and return"—work. This is followed by a discussion among a panel of scientists and practitioners including Dr. Phil Fisher, the Philip H. Knight Chair and Professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon, and director of the Center for Translational Neuroscience; Patricia Marinho, founder and CEO of Tempojunto and co-founder of Programa BEM; and Sarah Ryan, director of Life Skills at Julie's Family Learning Program. The panelists discuss what it looks like to serve and return with children on a daily basis, and how to encourage these interactions. Panelists Dr. Phil Fisher Patricia Marinho Sarah Ryan Additional Resources Resources from the Center on the Developing Child Working Paper 1: Young Children Develop in an Environment of Relationships Serve & Return Interaction Shapes Brain Circuitry 5 Steps for Brain-Building Serve and Return How-to Video: 5 Steps for Brain-Building Serve and Return Play in Early Childhood: The Role of Play in Any Setting Building Babies’ Brains Through Play: Mini Parenting Master Class FIND: Filming Interactions to Nurture Development Articles Beecher, Michael D. & Burt, John M. (2004). The role of social interaction in bird song learning. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13(6), 224-228. Kok, R., Thijssen, S., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. et al. (2015). Normal variation in early parental sensitivity predicts child structural brain development. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 54(10), 824–831. Kuhl, P.K., Ramírez, R.R., Bosseler, A., Lin, J.L. & Imada, T. (2014). Infants’ brain responses to speech suggest analysis by synthesis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 111(31), 11238-11245. Levy, J., Goldstein, A. & Feldman, R. (2019). The neural development of empathy is sensitive to caregiving and early trauma. Nature Communications, 10, 1905. Marler, Peter (1970). Birdsong and speech development: Could there be parallels?. American Scientist, 58(6), 669-673. Ramírez-Esparza, N., García-Sierra, A. & Kuhl, P.K. (2014). Look who’s talking: Speech style and social context in language input to infants is linked to concurrent and future speech development. In press: Developmental Science, 17(6), 880-91. Rifkin-Graboi, A., Kong, L., Sim, L.W. et al. (2015). Maternal sensitivity, infant limbic structure volume and functional connectivity: A preliminary study. Translational Psychiatry, 5, e668. Romeo, R.R., Leonard, J.A., Robinson, S.T., et al. (2018). Beyond the 30-million-word gap: Children’s conversational exposure is associated with language-related brain function. Psychological Science, 29(5), 700-710. Sethna, V., Pote, I., Wang, S. et al. (2017). Mother–infant interactions and regional brain volumes in infancy: An MRI study. Brain Structure and Function, 222, 2379–2388. Yu, C. & Smith, L.B. (2013). Joint attention without gaze following: Human infants and their parents coordinate visual attention to objects through eye-hand coordination. PLoS One, 8(11), e79659. Resources from Our Panelists Dr. Phil Fisher The FIND Program Patricia Marinho Tempojunto (in Portuguese) Progama BEM (video in Portuguese with English subtitles) Transcript Sally: Welcome to The Brain Architects,
Mar 09, 2020
Toxic Stress: Protecting the Foundation
36:34
What is toxic stress? What effects can it have on a child's body and development, and how can those effects be prevented? What does it mean to build resilience? This episode of The Brain Architects explores what "toxic stress" means, and what we can do about it. Contents Podcast Panelists Additional Resources Transcript Host Sally Pfitzer is once again joined by Center Director Dr. Jack Shonkoff as they dive into the different types of stress, including what makes certain stress "toxic," while other stress can be tolerable or even positive for children. They discuss the effects that toxic stress can have on developing brains, as well as what it means to be resilient to sources of stress, and how parents and caregivers can help encourage that resilience in children. Dr. Shonkoff also emphasizes the point that, even for those who may have experienced toxic stress, "it's never too late to make things better." Then, listen to a panel discussion featuring Pediatrician Dr. Kathleen Conroy, Community Mental Health Worker Cerella Craig, Professor and Researcher Dr. Megan Gunnar, and Training Director for Rise Magazine Jeanette Vega, as they discuss the various ways in which they encounter toxic stress and its effects in their work. The panelists speak openly about how toxic stress can affect families and children—including ways in which the systems set up to help can be the cause of further stress—and how to talk about toxic stress in a way that doesn't make things feel hopeless to those who have experienced it. They also dig into strategies they employ in their various fields to help children and families deal with stress, and move what might be toxic stress back to tolerable levels. Download the episode and subscribe to the podcast today. Panelists Dr. Kathleen Conroy, Associate Clinical Director, Boston Children’s Primary Care, and Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School Cerella Craig, Community Mental Health Worker, New Haven, CT Megan Gunnar, Professor and Director of the Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota Jeanette Vega, Training Director, Rise magazine Additional Resources Resources from the Center on the Developing Child A Guide to Toxic Stress Stress and Resilience: How Toxic Stress Affects Us, and What We Can Do About It Infographic: What We Can Do About Toxic Stress Infographic: ACEs and Toxic Stress: Frequently Asked Questions Key Concepts: Resilience Resources Regarding the Separation and Detention of Migrant Children and Families Three Principles to Improve Outcomes for Children and Families Science to Policy and Practice: Applying the Science of Child Development in Child Welfare Systems InBrief: Applying the Science of Child Development in Child Welfare Systems Working Paper: Excessive Stress Disrupts the Architecture of the Developing Brain Working Paper: The Science of Neglect: The Persistent Absence of Responsive Care Disrupts the Developing Brain Resources from Our Panelists Jeanette Vega RISE TIPS: Visits With Children in Foster Care RISE TIPS: Service Planning Risemagazine.org features lots of stories by parents involved in the child welfare system for other parents. Transcript Sally: Welcome to The Brain Architects, a new podcast from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. I'm your host, Sally Pfitzer. Our center believes that advances in science can provide a powerful source of new ideas that can improve outcomes for children and families. We want to help you apply the science of early childhood development to your everyday interactions with children, and take what you're hearing from our experts and panels and apply it to your everyday work. In today’s episode, we’re going to explore this concept called toxic stress, which is a buzzword you may have heard and potentially used incorrectly. So we’re going to discuss what toxic stress is and what it can do to ...
Feb 07, 2020
Brain Architecture: Laying the Foundation
33:42
Why are the early years of a child's life so important for brain development? How are connections built in the brain, and how can early brain development affect a child's future health? This episode of The Brain Architects dives into all these questions and more. Contents Podcast Panelists Additional Resources Transcript First, Dr. Jack Shonkoff, director of the Center on the Developing Child, explains more about the science behind how brains are built—their architecture—and what it means to build a strong brain. This is followed by a panel discussion with Dr. Judy Cameron, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh; Debbie LeeKeenan, an early childhood consultant and former director of the Eliot-Pearson Children's School at Tufts University; and Dr. Pia Rebello Britto, the global chief and senior advisor for the Early Childhood Development Program Division at UNICEF. These panelists discuss the practical side of building brain architecture, and what any parent or caregiver can do to help give children's brains a strong foundation. Download the episode and subscribe now! Panelists Dr. Pia Rebello Britto Dr. Judy Cameron Debbie LeeKeenan Additional Resources Resources from the Center on the Developing Child Key Concepts: Brain Architecture Video: Experiences Build Brain Architecture Deep Dive: Gene-Environment Interaction A Guide to Executive Function Resources from Our Panelists Dr. Pia Rebello Britto Articles Black, Maureen M., et al., ‘Early Childhood Development Coming of Age: Science through the life course’, The Lancet, series 0140-6736, no. 16, 4 October 2016, p.4. https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(16)31389-7.pdf Web Resources UNICEF: 29 Million Babies Born into Conflict in 2018 UNICEF: Early Childhood Development UNICEF: Early Moments Matter UNICEF: Pollution: 300 Million Children Breathing Toxic Air Dr. Judy Cameron The Brain Architecture Game Working for Kids Debbie LeeKeenan Organizations Anti-bias Leaders in Early Childhood Education National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) PEPS: Program for Early Parent Support Books Daly, L & Beloglovsky, M. (2014) Loose Parts: Inspiring Play In Young Children, Red Leaf Press. Luckenbill, J. Subramaniam, A. & Thompson, J. (2019) This is Play: Environments and Interactions that Engage Infants and Toddlers, Washington D.C., NAEYC. Masterson, M and Bohart, H. (2019) Serious Fun: How Guided Play Extends Children’s Learning, Washington D.C., NAEYC. Rogoff, B. (2003) The Cultural Nature Of Human Development, Oxford University Press. Transcript Sally: Welcome to The Brain Architects, the new podcast from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. I'm your host, Sally Pfitzer. Our center believes that advances in science can provide a powerful source of new ideas that can improve outcomes for children and families. We want to help you apply the science of early childhood development to your everyday interactions with children, and take what you're hearing from our experts and panels and apply it to your everyday work. In today's episode, we're going to dive into the concept of brain architecture and learn a little bit more about the science behind it. We'll learn why the early years are really important for brain development, and think about how connections are built in the brain, and what a strong or weak foundation in the brain can mean for a child's future health and development. Here to help us explain brain architecture is Dr. Jack Shonkoff, professor of child health and development, and director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. Welcome, Jack. Jack: Hey, Sally. Good to be here. Sally: We have a lot of questions to dive into today, but first, can you explain where the idea of brain architecture came from?
Jan 10, 2020
Coming Soon: The Brain Architects Podcast
1:12
Center staffers Sally Pfitzer, Charley Gibney, and Brandi Thomas record an episode of The Brain Architects podcast Healthy development in the early years provides the building blocks for educational achievement, economic productivity, responsible citizenship, strong communities, and successful parenting of the next generation. By improving children’s environments, relationships, and experiences early in life, society can address many costly problems, including incarceration, homelessness, and the failure to complete high school. But if you’re a parent, caregiver, teacher, or someone who works with children every day, you may be wondering, “Where do I start?!” From brain architecture to toxic stress to serve and return, The Brain Architects, a new podcast from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, will explore what we can do during this incredibly important period to ensure that all children have a strong foundation for future development. Listen to the trailer, and subscribe now! Transcript Sally: Welcome to the brain architects. A new podcast from the center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. I'm your host, Sally Fetzer. We want to help you apply the science of early childhood development to your everyday interactions with children and everyday work. Speaker 1: Those building blocks, those really connections in the brain that prepare us for all of the learning that follows start in the new-born period. Speaker 2: These adults in the child's life need time, they need resources, they need services, and all of that enables them to engage with their children in a meaningful manner. Speaker 3: We see a lot of families who have then failed time and time again by trying to access system that should be set up to help them. Speaker 4: Parents are facing basic need issues they're not going to focus on the bigger issues that are causing them any stress in their lives. Speaker 5: Each of us needs to have a support in order to function. What do you need to feel better? Speaker 6: The brain is always trying to get things right, if it goes off track, it's always trying to get back on track. That's the beauty of the science. It's also the beauty of the magic of human development.
Dec 17, 2019