25 April 2009

Essential Principles for Improving the Odds for Children at Risk

In a new book, Changing the Odds for Children at Risk Dr. Susan B. Neuman lays out "seven essential principles of educational programs that break the cycle of poverty."

The book uses extensive research on child development and effective programs to make the case for responsible, substantive investment in areas such as early care and education, comprehensive family supports, and after-school programs. Dr. Neuman offers constructive suggestions for moving toward a policy agenda that would improve the well-being and life outcomes of the poorest children in American society. These children are at greatest risk of poor social, emotional and cognitive brain development, with lasting implications not only for their lifetime well-being but also for the welfare of their communities.

In a December 2008 interview, Dr. Neuman spoke about the book, and about the importance of understanding that children live and learn in an environment of relationships.

“Many mothers and fathers want to do the right thing for their children. They may not have the opportunity to do that. But these parents also live in communities. I think what we have underestimated very often is the surround--the environment that these families are often in. The communities need to be revitalized."

In order to build the public will to move toward this agenda, Neuman argues that we need to:

"… make government more transparent. Very often, the American public sees policy as something done to them, rather than engaging in policy discussions. So I think a more public accounting of where our programs are and what they are doing to change the odds begins to engage the public in a public discussion."

No comments: