May 18, 2018


Child Development and Social Policy

Duke’s Early Experience and the Developing Brain (DEED) Lab research and training efforts are intended to demonstrate the positive impact of scientific innovation on child development and well-being. However, we recognize that the path from scientific innovation to ‘common practices’ used to support young, vulnerable children is not always straightforward and is often reliant upon a number of other factors (e.g., economics, public opinion).

As a result, DEED is committed to making sure that the scientific innovations capable of helping young, vulnerable children are easily incorporated into social policy decision making and program design. To support this effort, DEED team members participate in activities intended to raise awareness to the science of early childhood mental health and disseminate new findings.

We help scientific innovations capable of informing early childhood mental health practice ‘speak’ within the policy context by generating issue briefs, white papers, and creating strategic partnerships in the community so that science can be easily conveyed and applied.

We are excited to share our new B.U.D.D.I.E.S.Building Understanding of Development through Discussions In Everyday Settings– program. The BUDDIES program is an immersive experience that provides graduate and undergraduate students with an opportunity to learn 1) about how early life experiences are important for a child both now and in the future and 2) how we can elevate our community’s understanding about this topic by sharing our knowledge of child development with other community members. The BUDDIES program is directed by Duke faculty member Dr. Michael S. Gaffrey and carried out in partnership with The Little School at Duke Preschool (TLS).

BUDDIES will provide Duke students with a structured experience in observing and learning about how children grow while at the same time providing them with the tools for successfully delivering a succinct, cogent, and lay person friendly message about the importance of child development and children as active citizens in our everyday world. In order to accomplish this, Duke graduate and undergraduate students are paired with a TLS class room and visit with students in this classroom ~4 hours per month. In addition, graduate and undergraduate students participating in the BUDDIES program accompany TLS teachers and their TLS student buddies on field trips to community destinations. Accompanying their TLS student buddies to community destinations allows students to share a brief message about the importance of early childhood development with community members also present in a given location.

Resource for Providers!

Best Practices for Very Early Intervention in ASD:

  • Download this practice brief (pdf format)  for an update on the latest evidence-based approaches to enhancing social engagement & communication for very young children with Autism via Naturalistic Developmental Behavioral Intervention.