UT Austin Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center

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

The Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center

Strengthening the Earliest Years through Research and Collaboration

Why Prenatal to 3?

 Translating the Science and Evidence to State PolicyThe 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 new 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 new Impact Center National Advisory Council and founding director of Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.

About the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center

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 University of Texas at Austin established the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. The Impact Center is led by Dr. Cynthia Osborne, Associate Dean and Director of the Child and Family Research Partnership at the LBJ School. (Read about the official launch during the National Conference of State Legislatures’ 2019 annual Legislative Summit. See on Facebook.)

The Impact Center aims to be an integral resource that policy leaders, scholars, advocates, and funders can turn to for meaningful data, reliable evidence, and opportunities for collaboration across the field. These insights will help states shape early childhood policies related to maternal and child health, parenting and family supports, and early learning environments.

"I applaud the pioneering work of the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center and am eager to embark on this exciting journey in early childhood policy. 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 new Impact Center’s National Advisory Council.

Based on a collaborative process with leading voices from the early childhood field, the Impact Center will provide an annual Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap to help states and communities build effective PN-3 systems of care. Each year, the Impact Center will measure the progress in each state toward improving the health and well-being of infants, toddlers and their families through a comprehensive and transparent analysis of PN-3 policy development and implementation.

The PN-3 Roadmap will provide information on effective state-level policies that have a strong evidence base for promoting healthy beginnings, strengthening families, and providing quality care environments for children. Through the development of the PN-3 Roadmap, researchers, program evaluators, policymakers and advocates will work together to:

  • Interpret complex academic research and often nuanced program evaluations;
  • Identify gaps in research and evaluation, and
  • Conduct new research to understand the full impact of PN-3 solutions.

In order to facilitate the ongoing collaboration between those who research early childhood and those who implement PN-3 policies and programs, the Impact Center will also:

  • Host an annual state-of-the-field meeting;
  • Create learning collaboratives between scholars and practitioners;
  • Develop an interactive website to exchange information, and
  • Provide dashboards for state policymakers and advocates to monitor their progress toward creating a strong PN-3 system of care

“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 Impact Center will be guided by the National Advisory Council, which will inform the development of the PN-3 State Policy Roadmap, fostering dialogue among scholars, practitioners, state leaders, advocates and funders across sectors. To date, this 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 Impact Center.