A Leadership Hub for Early Childhood Policy 

The Institute of Early Childhood Policy at Boston College is a cross-disciplinary effort between the Lynch School of Education and Human Development and the School of Social Work. Led by professor Rebekah Levine Coley and faculty in the two schools, the institute expands research, training, and interdisciplinary collaboration in the field of early childhood development.

In the News

Do more hours in center-based care cause more externalizing problems? A cross-national replication study

In collaboration with a team of international scholars, lead author and ECPL scholar, Catalina Rey-Guerra, and IECP faculty member, Eric Dearing, recently undertook efforts to examine whether within-child changes in center-based care were associated with behavioral changes in 10,105 toddlers and preschoolers. Findings from a range of statistical analyses conducted with data across seven studies from five countries generally provide no evidence that extensive time in child care is associated with behavior problems for young children.

What We Do

The institute will conduct cutting edge research, shape policies, train students, and engage in robust collaborations among researchers, policymakers, and practitioners. It will be anchored by three strategic pillars: research, training, and collaboration.

Research

The institute will serve as a hub to coordinate and expand the robust interdisciplinary research that BC faculty and graduate students are conducting in the field of early childhood development. The work, which focuses on diverse populations both within and outside of the U.S., utilizes an array of theoretical frameworks and methodologies to develop a stronger understanding of how our experiences in early childhood shape who we become. The institute will work with a broad set of stakeholders, including children and families, to develop and apply new scientific knowledge to shape policies and practices that improve the health and well-being of children across the world.

Training

The institute will serve as the base for a new interdisciplinary certificate in Early Childhood Policy and Leadership. The program will train a cohort of master’s and doctoral students to develop a deep understanding of the needs of children and families whose lives are shaped by early childhood programs, services, and policies. As fellows of the institute, the students will be supported by faculty mentors and complete one-and-a-half years of rigorous training that will prepare them to conduct cutting edge research, analyze policies, and translate scientific findings into practice in the early childhood field. Fellows will be part of a robust and expanding regional, national, and international network of early childhood researchers, practitioners, and policy leaders, which will lay a strong foundation on which to build their careers. The program, which will launch in the spring semester of 2022, will require students to accomplish four objectives:

  • Complete a three-course certificate in Early Childhood Policy and Leadership, including courses in the science of early childhood development; program and policy development and evaluation; and leadership, advocacy, and partnerships.
  • Participate in a monthly seminar, targeting key issues related to early childhood research, practice, policy, advocacy, and leadership. 
  • Complete a three-month paid internship in a local, national, or international setting to solidify skills in research, research translation, program development, leadership, or policy analysis in the ECPL field. 
  • Translate learning from the internship and certificate courses by completing a capstone project, such as a policy brief, academic paper, or policy analysis.


This four-pronged approach aims to expand the capacity, diversity, and strength of the early childhood field, setting up students for professional careers in early childhood policy and practice. Fellows will develop into leaders in research, policy analysis, and translation to practice, paving the way to make sustainable, equitable change in the discipline. 

Collaboration

The institute will serve as a vibrant hub for collaboration that cuts across disciplines ranging from psychology and social work to law and political science. Informed by a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, students and scholars at BC will partner with researchers, policymakers, and practitioners outside the University.

The institute will marshal the expertise of alumni and tap into relationships within key research, policy, advocacy, and educational organizations to:

  • Train future leaders in early childhood policy
  • Support innovative research on early childhood development, policies, and programs
  • Enhance the translation of knowledge to advance evidence-based policy and practice