ECI network member Dana Suskind recently met with HCEO to discuss her research on early learning, which lies at the intersection of education and health.
Suskind first became interested in early childhood development through her work as a pediatric cochlear implant surgeon. She began noticing the developmental disparities among children who had received cochlear implants. "Some of them would be talking and learning on par with their hearing peers, while others, at the same time out, would barely be able to communicate," she says. "It was a very painful difference to see. While the cochlear implant could bring sound to a child's brain, something else was needed to make those sounds have meaning."
This experience led her to learn more about early childhood development, including the importance of early language exposure for brain development. In 2010, Suskind founded the TMW Center for Early Learning and Public Health at the University of Chicago. The TMW initiative develops and scales interventions that place parents and caregivers at the center of their children’s education. The programs focus "on the power of parents and language interaction in the first three years of life, as a way to impact educational disparities."