RAND Community Conference on Early Childhood Issues

From Science to Action: Building a Cradle-to-Career System

A Kindergarten teacher with her students


Saturday, March 17, 2012


8:45 a.m.–9:15 a.m. Check-in and Continental Breakfast
9:15 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Program


RAND Corporation
1776 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA

Free garage parking
Big Blue Bus lines that stop within one block of RAND:
#1, #2, #3, #4, #7, #8, #9, #10

This community conference is a public service of the RAND Corporation. There is no admission charge. However, seating is limited and advanced reservations are required.

We thank our community partners, the City of Santa Monica Human Services Division, the City of Santa Monica Child Care and Early Education Task Force, Connections for Children, and Santa Monica College.


Research Presentation: Toxic Stress and Its Impact on Early Learning, Social-Emotional Development and Long-term Health

The healthy development of young children provides a strong foundation for wellness and competency in adulthood, responsible citizenship, economic productivity, strong communities and a just and fair society. This is inextricably linked to the development of healthy brain architecture, a process that begins in utero and is influenced greatly by both genes and environment working together. Neuroscience research tells us that early experiences shape brain architecture through stabilizing and eliminating certain connections. The circuits that are defined by these connections are wired from the bottom-up, reflecting the fact that simple skill development is essential for supporting the emergence of more complex skills. Research also tells us that early adverse childhood experiences, such as those classified as "toxic stress" (for example physical and psychological abuse, exposure to violence, neglect) contribute directly to risk for both short-term and long-term physical and mental health problems. The current view is that basic principles of neuroscience and economics indicate that later remediation will be more costly than preventive intervention in the first years of life and during pregnancy. The decisions faced by communities will be discussed in light of the richness of this information.

Speaker: Pat Levitt, Ph.D.

Levitt is Provost Professor of Neuroscience, Psychiatry, and Pharmacy; Director of the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute; and Chair of the Department of Cell & Neurobiology, Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California. The report upon which Levitt's presentation is based, A Science-Based Framework for Early Childhood Policy, was co-authored by the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child and the National Forum on Early Childhood Program Evaluation. Both initiatives are housed at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.

Facilitated Dialogue: Cradle to Career—Creating an Effective Community System

Imagine a community that supports the success of children from cradle to career. Increasingly, cutting edge academic research and innovative organizations are demonstrating that substantive social impact is a result of collective action that provides marginalized individuals and families a continuum of care. We will start with a presentation that will outline the conceptual and research framework behind a cradle to career collective impact strategy. A facilitated community conversation will follow to explore with the audience the key questions, barriers, and action steps to developing a cradle to career system in Santa Monica and beyond.

Facilitator: Jonathan Mooney

Mooney has 15 years of experience as a social entrepreneur and author on the cutting edge of social impact. He holds an honors degree from Brown University, is a Harry S. Truman Scholar for Public Service, and was a finalist for a Rhodes Scholarship. He is the author of two books, Learning Outside the Lines (Simon and Schuster, 2000) and The Short Bus (Henry Holt and Co., 2007) and a widely sought after speaker who has presented in 45 states, five countries, and numerous universities, including Harvard's Graduate School of Education, Teachers College Columbia, and Brown University's Swearer Center for Public Service. He is currently serving as the consultant to the Santa Monica cradle-to-career initiative.

Personal Statement: Why Should We Care?

Statistics, studies, measures of accountability, and costs and benefits are the currency of public policymaking. We sometimes forget that policy is about people. In closing the conference, 17-year old David Ramirez will offer his story to remind us why we should care about building an effective cradle-to-career system in Santa Monica. Overcoming personal challenges ranging from obesity to low self-esteem to poor academic achievement, David was recently selected as Youth of the Year by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica and will serve as its youth spokesperson throughout the year.

About RAND

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND focuses on the issues that matter most such as health, education, national security, international affairs, law and business, the environment, and more. With a research staff consisting of some of the world's preeminent minds, RAND has been expanding the boundaries of human knowledge for more than 60 years. Visit us online at www.rand.org.

Further Inquiries

Contact Iao Katagiri, Director of Community Relations, RAND Corporation by email at iao@rand.org or by telephone at (310) 393-0411, ext. 7517.