In a recent statement, Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D., Director at The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, noted that the devastating and unevenly distributed damage caused by the pandemic underscores the need to not just rebuild, but to re-envision what a post-pandemic world will look like.
Dr. Shonkoff praised front-line service providers, especially those supporting young children and their families. The pandemic broadened awareness that widely available, quality care and learning for children aged 0-5 is critically important to our collective futures, and he calls for action to build stronger systems of care:
“Now, a year later, early childhood policies and services are at a critical inflection point—and the need to build a stronger ecosystem has never been more compelling. Longstanding concerns about fragile infrastructure and chronic funding constraints have been laid bare. While we rightfully celebrate inspiring examples of ingenuity under pressure, we cannot ignore that some segments of the ecosystem (especially childcare) may be particularly difficult to restore. Few disagree with the call for a different path forward, but the nature of that path remains to be determined.
The reconstruction of a more robust ecosystem that forges stronger connections at the community level among primary health care (both physical and mental), early care and education, social services, child welfare, and financial supports is essential.”
Dr. Shankoff concluded his statement on a positive note:
“[The Center on the Developing Child’s] optimism about the road ahead is unshakeable, fueled by our faith in the collective power of change agents across communities, systems, and sectors who share the dream of a brighter future for all young children and for the adults who care for them.”