Senator Kathy Sheran and Rep. Kathy Brynaert were among a select bipartisan, bicameral group of Minnesota legislators nominated by their leadership to participate in an intensive three-day conference on child development sponsored by the Council of State Governments and the University of Minnesota.
During the Minnesota Legislative Leadership Institute on Child Development Research and Policy, held Nov. 14-16 in Chaska, Sen. Sheran and Rep. Brynaert learned from nationally-recognized researchers about the latest science on brain development in young children, as well as how experiences between birth and age 3 affect developmental, health, and behavioral outcomes across life spans. The institute also gave participants the chance to reflect and deliberate with colleagues on implications for policy and legislation in Minnesota.
Sen. Sheran stated: “I was convinced by the research that early childhood investment is the pathway to social and economic success.”
“Research has made it absolutely clear that high-quality early childhood experiences including early care and education lay a critical foundation for a lifetime of success,” Rep. Brynaert said. “By investing in the early care and education of Minnesota’s youngest, we can close the achievement gap, improve student success and save the state money over the long-term. For every dollar invested in early childhood, studies have shown that the state receives a $12-$16 return on investment. This is an investment in our future and one worth making.”
The program was the second such institute convened for Minnesota legislators, who are nominated by party leadership to take part. Participants from the inaugural institute, which was held in 2009, joined the 2011 class on the last day of the event, allowing all institute participants to work together to create a common base of understanding and agreement about child well-being and child development.
Featured presenters included:
• Megan Gunnar, Ph.D., University of Minnesota Distinguished McKnight Professor in Child Development – Dr. Gunnar is an international expert on the effect of stress on brain development, as well as a member of the National Scientific Council of the Developing Child at Harvard University.
• Robert Anda, MD, MS, senior researcher, Centers for Disease Control, and Co-Principal Investigator of the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE) – The ACE is one of the largest scientific research studies of its kind, analyzing the relationships between multiple categories of childhood trauma and health and behavioral outcomes later in life.
The institute was made possible through a grant from the Minnesota Community Foundation, which covered all expenses.