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CMU to convene global leaders summit on early childhood

Early Childhood: Shifting Mindsets addresses economic impact on child development

Contact: Dan Digmann

​​​A global summit focused on the well-being of children will be held at Central Michigan University June 3 through 5. The Early Childhood: Shifting Mindsets summit will bring experts and leaders together from across M​ichigan, the United States and international organizations to examine critical issues, exchange ideas, build bridges, and shape solutions to improve outcomes for children and families. 

The summit will examine the science of child development; how science and research are informing practice across early systems of care, education and support; key policy issues; and how Michigan is responding and adjusting policy through public, private, philanthropic and community-based strategies.

"We see CMU as a catalyst to bring diverse groups together and formulate an action plan," said Dale Pehrsson, dean of the College of Education and Human Services. "The summit will contribute substantively to an exchange of knowledge and cutting-edge approaches to help shape policy changes related to children and families."  

The summit, designed and hosted by EHS students, faculty and staff in partnership with leaders from Michigan's early childhood communities, will engage more than 50 experts from the fields of science, education, pediatric medicine, infant mental health, philanthropy, government and business. CMU anticipates 300 to 400 participants.    

Studies have linked child-related problems to the economic insecurity of families:

  • The "2015 Kids Count in Michigan" report says one in four children in the state lived in a family with income below the poverty level in 2013.
  • The same report shows Michigan ranked third from the bottom among U.S. states in the overall index of well-being for African-American children, Michigan's second largest racial/ethnic group.
  • The Citizens Research Council says 56 percent of the birth-to-three population were identified as "at risk" of falling behind their peers before they reach kindergarten.
  • The findings also show that 57 percent of children under the age of four are raised in households with both parents working.

Scientific studies of economic insecurity and poverty link the findings to other risk factors associated with children's health, nutrition, school readiness, low educational attainment of parents, and an increased likelihood of neglect and maltreatment. 

"The forum will promote sustainable partnerships to solve complex issues along the shifting landscape that's challenging Michigan's children and families, including access to high-quality early learning, the health and well-being of children under five, family stress, and poverty in Michigan," Pehrsson said.

Pehrsson says CMU recognizes its leadership role in supporting the work of educators, health care providers, parents, caregivers and policymakers to help confront the challenges of Michigan's youngest citizens.

"The collective efforts of CMU faculty, staff, students and graduates continue to provide a positive force for children and families," Pehrsson said.

The complete summit agenda and slate of speakers are available here:

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