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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: June 2012

Introduction

Summary

Over the past 40 years, the field of applied developmental psychology has come into prominence. Scholars in this field work to deploy the store of knowledge about human development to help decision makers construct effective social policies and build evidence-based social action programs that improve the lives of children and their families. This book is an exemplar of this type of undertaking.

The first author has studied children's growth and development for half a century and has been closely involved with a number of early intervention initiatives for more than 40 years. He helped design several national programs, including Head Start, Early Head Start, the School of the 21st Century, and the Child Development Associate training credential for early childhood workers. On the policy front, he was the federal official responsible for administering Head Start during the Nixon administration, chaired a panel that produced the first draft of what became the Family and Medical Leave Act, and has advised Republican and Democrat federal and state leaders since the time of the Kennedy administration. Coauthors Walter Gilliam and Stephanie Jones trained at the Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy at Yale University. They have become outstanding young scholars in developmental science and its application to informed social policy.

This book is an effort to translate our knowledge into practice. We review the accumulated evidence about children's development and helpful interventions and show how to apply it to create a voluntary preschool system with universal access.