Promoting Early Childhood Development through Comprehensive Community Initiatives

Aber, J.L., L. Berlin & J. Brooks-Gunn.
Children's Services: Social Policy, Research, and Practice, 1(4), pp. 1-24.

Recent advances in developmental psychology, social services, and social policy have converged to highlight 3 issues: (a) the importance of early development; (b) the importance of the contexts, or "ecology," of early development, especially with respect to the ill effects of early childhood poverty; and (c) the promise of intervention programs for low-income children, families, and communities, including comprehensive community initiatives (CCIs). CCIs, however, generally have not focused on young children. In this article, we synthesize developmental science and current understanding of CCIs to suggest a number of ways for CCIs to increase their emphasis on early development. We begin with a review of developmental research that illustrates the effects of community characteristics on children's development. We then review the goals, strategies, and principles of CCIs. These reviews illustrate that despite overlapping emphases, developmental science and CCIs could be linked more generatively. We propose ways in which CCIs can be geared more specifically toward promoting early child development. Finally, we suggest strategies for evaluating these types of initiatives.

Wagner Faculty