UT Austin Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center

Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center at The University of Texas at Austin

National Prenatal-to-3 Research to Policy Summit


National Prenatal-to-3 Research to Policy Summit: Building a State Policy Roadmap to Strengthen the Earliest Years

The Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center

Research for Action and Outcomes

Health, maternal care, family life, economic security, and early care and learning—the first three years shape the future of every child’s life. The Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center at The University of Texas at Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs translates research on the best public investments into state policy actions that produce equitable results for young children and society.

Our team of researchers and nonpartisan policy experts works with policymakers, practitioners, and advocates to navigate the evidence of what works, set priorities, act with confidence, and analyze results for continuous improvement. We help connect the complex social, economic, and health needs of families that support effective child development in the earliest years—seeking effective policies for each and looking at how all can work together for the greatest impact.

The University of Texas at Austin established the national Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center at the LBJ School of Public Affairs with initial support from the Pritzker Children’s Initiative, a project of the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation, and the Buffett Early Childhood Fund. The Policy Impact Center is led by Dr. Cynthia Osborne, Associate Dean and Director of the Child and Family Research Partnership at the LBJ School.

Why Prenatal to 3?

The period from prenatal development to age three (PN-3) is the most sensitive period for the developing brain and body, and one that lays the foundation for all future learning, behavior, and health. Limited exposure to adversity and the presence of safe, stable, loving relationships are the keys to healthy early development. Yet this period is often challenging for parents, and families can benefit from a strong early childhood system of care to help their children thrive.

States are actively working to support early development by implementing policies and programs that enhance maternal and child health, foster parenting skills and family supports, and strengthen early care environments. However, state leaders, advocates and funders often have little access to researchers, who can help define where to start when prioritizing policies that promote strong systems of care. These leaders are seeking evidence from science and evaluation research to guide their policy development so that it is cost-effective, impactful, and reduces disparities in children’s health and wellbeing.

"Science is telling us that better outcomes for very young children facing adversity can be achieved by strengthening caregiver-child relationships, building core skills in parents, and reducing stresses on families. This center will provide a powerful platform for making those scientific insights actionable, informing new, state-level investments that produce greater impact at scale” -- Dr. Jack Shonkoff, member of Policy Impact Center National Advisory Council and founding director of Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.


The Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap

Our annual Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap will be released in September 2020, designed to provide clarity for state policy actions and better outcomes in early health, maternal care, family life, economic security, and early care and learning. It will provide a baseline for where states are, guidelines for next steps, and measure state progress toward improving the health and wellbeing of infants, toddlers, and their families through a comprehensive analysis of policy adoption and implementation. The Roadmap is being developed by the Policy Impact Center’s nonpartisan research and policy experts working in collaboration with field-based policymakers, scholars, program evaluators, and advocates. Together, we make sense of complex academic research and nuanced evaluations, identify gaps and point to new research necessary to achieve greater impact through prenatal-to-3 policy solutions.

"I applaud the pioneering work of the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center. In order to spur and sustain transformational change, state legislative leaders need trusted research partners, reliable evidence, and opportunities for collaboration to identify effective solutions that support infants, toddlers, and their families.” -- former Washington State Representative Ruth Kagi, a member of the Policy Impact Center’s National Advisory Council.


Navigating the Evidence

To facilitate the ongoing collaboration between those who research early childhood and those who implement PN-3 policies and programs, the Policy Impact Center is:

  • hosting the National Prenatal-to-3 Research to Policy Summit for state policymakers, scholars, practitioners, and advocates;
  • convening learning collaboratives between scholars and practitioners;
  • building a robust and rigorous Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Clearinghouse for state policies
  • developing data interactives and dashboards for state policymakers and advocates to monitor state progress toward creating a strong PN-3 system of care; and
  • bringing sectors together through a new Prenatal-to-3 Policy-Research Exchange for continuous advancement

“This approach allows for ample opportunity for state policy leaders, advocates and funders to work with researchers to better understand and implement policies that help all children thrive. This is truly a unique opportunity to leverage a diverse array of viewpoints and a wealth of expertise to support state leaders as they strive to develop effective policies leading to impactful solutions that truly serve our youngest.” -- Janet Froetscher, President of the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation


Expert Partners

The work of the Policy Impact Center is guided by the National Advisory Council, which informs the development of the Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap, fostering dialog among scholars, practitioners, state leaders, advocates, and funders across sectors. The inaugural council of national leaders includes:

  • Christina Altmayer - Vice President of Programs, First 5 LA
  • Joia Crear-Perry, M.D. - Founder and President, National Birth Equity Collaborative;
  • Libby Doggett, Ph.D. – former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning, U.S. Department of Education;
  • Greg Duncan, Ph.D. - Professor of Education, University of California at Irvine;
  • Janet Froetscher – President, J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation;
  • Janis Gonzales, M.D. - Bureau Chief and Medical Director for the Family Health Bureau, New Mexico Department of Health;
  • A.J. Griffin - former Oklahoma State Senator;
  • Thomas Hedrick - Director, Dillon Joyce Ltd and former CEO of AVANCE Inc.;
  • Iheoma Iruka, Ph.D. - Chief Research Innovation Officer and Director of the Center for Early Education Evaluation, HighScope Educational Research Foundation;
  • Brenda Jones Harden, Ph.D. - Alison Richman Professor of Children and Families, University of Maryland School of Social Work;
  • Ruth Kagi - former Washington State Representative;
  • John King, J.D., Ph.D. - President and CEO, The Education Trust;
  • David Lakey, M.D. - Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer, The University of Texas System;
  • Joan Lombardi, Ph.D. – Director, Early Opportunities LLC;
  • Michael Lu, M.D. – Dean, University of California-Berkeley School of Public Health;
  • Tammy Mann, Ph.D. - President and CEO, The Campagna Center;
  • Ron Mincy, Ph.D. - Professor of Social Policy and Social Work Practice, Columbia University;
  • Geoff Nagle, Ph.D. - President and CEO, Erikson Institute;
  • Jessie Rasmussen – President, Buffett Early Childhood Fund;
  • Jack Shonkoff, M.D. - Founding Director, Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child
  • Margaret Spellings - President and CEO, Texas 2036,
  • Jim Spurlino - President and owner, Spurlino Materials, and
  • David Willis, M.D. - Senior Fellow, the Center for the Study of Social Policy.

Providing additional perspective is the multidisciplinary UT Austin Scholars Group, a group of experts drawn from the rich and deep scholarship of Tier 1 research institution, The University of Texas at Austin. Areas of specialty reflected are pediatric and child health and development, maternal mortality and morbidity, social neuroscience, racial and health equity, early care and education, parenting, youth mental health, child welfare, and father engagement. The UT Austin Scholars Group includes:

  • Cynthia Osborne, Ph.D. (Chair) – LBJ School of Public Affairs;
  • Sarah Kate Bearman, Ph.D. - College of Education, Educational Psychology; Dell Medical School, Psychology;
  • Esther Calzada, Ph.D. - Steve Hicks School of Social Work;
  • Frances Champagne, Ph.D. - College of Liberal Arts, Psychology;
  • Robert Crosnoe, Ph.D. - College of Liberal Arts, Sociology;
  • Elizabeth Gershoff, Ph.D. - College of Natural Science, Human Development and Family Sciences;
  • Tara Greendyk, M.D. - Dell Medical School, Pediatrics;
  • Mark Hayward, Ph.D. - College of Liberal Arts, Sociology;
  • Michael Hole, M.D., M.B.A. - Dell Medical School, Pediatrics and Population Health; LBJ School of Public Affairs;
  • Jose Rubén Parra-Cardona, Ph.D. - Steve Hicks School of Social Work; and
  • Lourdes Rodríguez, Dr.PH. - Dell Medical School, Population Health.

To stay informed about the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center at the Child and Family Research Partnership, please click to sign-up for email updates and follow @pn3policy on Twitter. Contact us at pn3policy@austin.utexas.edu with questions.

Download the PDF about the Policy Impact Center.