Healthy Early Childhood Development Lab

The pilot TRI-Lab (2013-2014) focused on the topic of healthy early childhood development and was co-chaired by Professor Stephen Buka, Chair, Department of Epidemiology, and Elizabeth Burke-Bryant, Executive Director, Rhode Island KIDS COUNT. Additional leadership and expertise was provided by a distinguished Advisory Board.  

The 18-member Lab – three faculty, five community practitioners, and ten students – formed interdisciplinary work teams to assess the landscape of Rhode Island’s healthy early childhood development system, identify key leverage points, and design research projects and potential interventions.

The intense, year-long dialogues of the Lab yielded strong relationships between participating Brown faculty and students and their community and state agency counterparts and four continuing research projects, including:

  • “Parents as Investors” (collaborators: Brown University (A. Aizer), Children’s Friend, and Central Falls School District).  Borrowing from microfinance projects in developing countries, this team worked on implementing a project to enhance the “investments” of low-income parents in their children.  The broader aim of the pilot is to develop the evidence base for a large longitudinal study (in which one major funder has already expressed an interest) with results to be published in peer-reviewed journals. Read Evelyn Sanchez’s post on Swearer Sparks. 
  • “Bridging Research and Policy: Executive Function Development and Opportunities for Dual-Language Learners in Rhode  Island” (collaborators: Brown University (S. Buka), RI KIDS COUNT, and Ready to Learn/Providence Plan).   This project brings together researchers, policy makers, and practitioners around the topics of executive function development and dual-language learning. In dialogue with RI Department of Education and national experts, the team organized two symposia, policy briefs, and proceedings with the goal of accelerating the development and adoption of evidence-based curricula in pre-K learning environments. Read "Connecting Research with Practice" by Emily Davis on Swearer Sparks
  • “Pre-to-Three: Improving Utilization and Quality of Services for Low-Income Families in Rhode Island” (collaborators: Brown University (P. Vivier), Hasbro Children’s Hospital, RI Department of Health).   This team conducted quantitative and qualitative research at the Hasbro Children’s Hospital Pediatric Primary Care division in order to design and test interventions aimed at increasing the utilization, cost-effectiveness, and quality of services provided to low-income families in Rhode Island. Read "The Holes You Can't See" by Natalie Posever on Swearer Sparks.  
  • “Ready Rhode Island” Research Collaborative (S. Buka et. al.) TRI-Lab is also supporting a strategic planning effort aimed at establishing a standing research consortium in Rhode Island.  Bringing together leading early childhood researchers to address systematically key issues facing Rhode Island’s children and families would create a center of research excellence, enable the leveraging of significant state and federal grants and contracts, and accelerate improvements in policy and program delivery.

In the news: 
Helping Students Pursue Research with a Purpose. January 13, 2016.
R.I. Public Schools turn to charter for help teaching 2 languages at once, Providence Journal. September 16, 2015.

Anna Aizer: Associate Professor, Economics and Public Policy
Stephen Buka: Professor and Chair, Epidemiology
Patrick Vivier: Associate Professor of Health Services, Policy & Practice and Associate Professor of Pediatrics

Community Partners
Elizabeth Burke Bryant: Executive Director, RI KIDS COUNT
Leanne Barrett: Senior Policy Analyst, RI KIDS COUNT
Kristine Campagna: Manager, Home Visiting and Early Childhood Development Screening and Follow-Up Programs, Rhode Island Department of Health
Leslie Gell: Executive Director, Ready 2 Learn Providence
Aimee Mitchell:  Senior Vice President Programs and Operations/Head Start Director, Children's Friend

Presentations and Policy Briefs

Healthy Early Childhood Policy Brief. Supporting the Development of Executive Function in Young Children. October 2014.

Healthy Early Childhood Policy Brief. Promoting Early Language and Literacy Development in Young Dual/English Language Learners. December 2014.

Parents as Investors.

Bridging Research and Policy: Executive Function and Language Development in Young Children.