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Exploring innovation in early childhood development

Research findings presented at a Minneapolis Fed conference highlight the importance of investing early to ensure kids receive high-quality care and education

May 21, 2019


Exploring innovation in early childhood development
Exploring innovation in ECD, 2 column
Rob Grunewald ECD video still, 1 column

A passion for encouraging investments in kids

In a companion article and videos featuring Economist Rob Grunewald, learn about the history and impact of the Minneapolis Fed’s work in early childhood development.

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More than 15 years ago, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis published Early Childhood Development: Economic Development with a High Public Return by then-Director of Research Art Rolnick and Economist Rob Grunewald. The paper placed a spotlight on the economic return from investing in young children and families. Since its publication, advocates, policymakers, and philanthropists have used the paper, along with newer evidence, to make a case for increased investments in young children. Many communities have increased their resources devoted to home visiting, early learning, and health programs. Despite this progress, millions of families lack access to critical resources, such as a high-quality learning environment, for their children.

On October 23–24, 2018, researchers, policymakers, and practitioners gathered at the Minneapolis Fed for the Innovation in Early Childhood Development and K-12 Education Conference. Presenters applied research to pressing policy and practice questions. The articles linked below highlight key topics and takeaways about early childhood issues featured on the first day of the conference.

Measuring and addressing disparities in early executive function skills

Measuring and addressing disparities in early executive function skills, 1 column

Disparities in executive function skills by socioeconomic status are observed by the time children reach age two

Engaging parents with their children’s development

Engaging parents in their children's development, 1 column

Making the science of brain development tangible and applicable to daily life can help parents support their children’s development

Getting specific about what works in early learning classrooms

Getting specific about what works in early learning classrooms, 1 column

Child-involved, teacher-assisted activities and a curriculum that structures time and engages children are key features of effective classroom instruction

Differentiating between price and cost in the poorly functioning child care market

Differentiating between price and cost, one column

High-quality child care often costs more than families can afford, but well-designed public funding and policies can bridge the gap and ensure adequate supply

With solid evidence on ROI, the big question is how to invest

Solid evidence of ROI, 1 column

Strong evidence on the ROI for early childhood development compels increased public investment, even as researchers continue to hone in on the key components of quality

photo of Rob Grunewald
Rob Grunewald

Rob Grunewald is an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Grunewald conducts research on community development and regional economic issues. He co-authored “Early Childhood Development: Economic Development with a High Public Return” in 2003 and has written several subsequent articles on the economic and social impact of early learning. He frequently speaks to community and business leaders, policymakers, and media throughout the United States.

Grunewald has served on boards and advisory committees for organizations involved with early childhood development, including Think Small: Leaders in Early Learning, First Children’s Finance, and the Minnesota Visiting Nurse Agency. He is also a past president of the Minnesota Economic Association. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and religion from St. Olaf College and a master’s degree in applied economics from the University of Minnesota.

Ben Horowitz
Ben Horowitz
Senior Project Manager, Community Development