A giant in his field: A global tribute to the life & legacy of child welfare pioneer, Edward Zigler

Scholars around the globe honor the late Edward Zigler, founding father of Head Start and trailblazer in early childhood development, developmental science, and social policy, in a special journal issue.

By Bekir B. Artukoglu, Michael F. McCarthy, and N. Shemrah Fallon, ECPC News

Professor Edward Zigler. Photo: Courtesy The Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy
Professor Edward Zigler. Photo: Courtesy The Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy
Professor Edward Zigler. Photo: Courtesy The Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy
First Lady Lady Bird Johnson visits a Head Start class in 1966. By White House Photograph Office, Robert L. Knudsen. — This media is available in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration, cataloged under the National Archives Identifier (NAID) 596401., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4192751
First Lady Lady Bird Johnson visits a Head Start class in 1966. By White House Photograph Office, Robert L. Knudsen. — This media is available in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration, cataloged under the National Archives Identifier (NAID) 596401., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4192751
First Lady Lady Bird Johnson visits a Head Start class in 1966. By White House Photograph Office, Robert L. Knudsen.

In loving memory of Edward Zigler…

Pathways to a more peaceful and sustainable world: The transformative power of children in families

Dr. James F. Leckman (L) joins with scholars from around the globe in honor of Edward Zigler, founding father of Head Start and trailblazer in early childhood development, developmental science, and social policy. Photo: Courtesy, Maria Conceição do Rosário.

The importance of Early Childhood Development

The importance of early childhood development (ECD) is well established. As a field, scholars and practitioners in psychology, psychiatry, neurology, pediatrics, public health, economics, education, and related disciplines are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of ECD in setting the stage for the emergence of neuropsychiatric disorders. Beyond psychopathology, it is also clear that events early in a child’s life can directly impact their physical health, learning, and well-being and the degree to which a child is able to reach their full developmental and economic potential (Black et al, 2017; Britto et al., 2017; Daelmans et al., 2017).

  1. Creating a policy environment that supports the nurturing care of young children
  2. Building capacity to promote ECD through multi-sectoral coordination
  3. Ensuring accountability for early child development services, increasing research, and fostering global and regional leadership and action.

Sustainable and high-quality ECD programs across the globe are a path to a more peaceful and sustainable world

Sadly, more than 420 million children globally live in areas affected by conflict. Indeed, UNICEF in 2018 estimated that 29 million babies were born into conflict-affected areas, and this number is likely to be even higher now. The UN also estimates that every five seconds, somewhere in the world, a child is killed by violence.

Early Childhood Peace Consortium (ECPC)

The Early Childhood Peace Consortium (ECPC) was founded in 2013 to act to convince policymakers and the global community that children and families can be agents of change for peace.

Professor Edward Zigler. Photo: Courtesy The Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy
Professor Edward Zigler. Photo: Courtesy The Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy
Professor Edward Zigler. Photo: Courtesy The Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy

Mother Child Education Foundation (AÇEV) (Turkey, Lebanon, Brazil, Saudi Arabia)

The Mother Child Education Foundation (AÇEV), based in Turkey, has developed and implemented the Mother-Child Education Program (MOCEP) in more than 14 countries. The authors highlight these initiatives in Lebanon, Brazil, and Saudi Arabia.

The Arab Resource Collective (ARC) MOCEP research team, Beirut, Lebanon. Photo: Courtesy ARC.
The Arab Resource Collective (ARC) MOCEP research team, Beirut, Lebanon. Photo: Courtesy ARC.
The Arab Resource Collective (ARC) MOCEP research team, Beirut, Lebanon. Photo: Courtesy ARC.

Early Years — the organization for young children (Ireland)

Next, the authors review the history and efforts of the Early Years — the organization for young children, based in Northern Ireland, which endeavored to build and sustain peace and reconciliation even during the worst time of the conflict in this region. Their Media Initiative for Children Respecting Difference Programme (MIFC) for preschool children, their parents, and teachers aim to build a culture of respect for those who are different in terms of race, religion, ethnicity, and disability. This program has been implemented in the Balkans, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

LINKS — National Institute for Health Research — a Global Health Research Group on Early Childhood Development for Peacebuilding

Mama Yeleen research team led by Dr. Yaya Togo (R) (Mali)
Mama Yeleen research team led by Dr. Yaya Togo (R) (Mali)
Mama Yeleen research team led by Dr. Yaya Togo (R) (Mali)

Mentoring the next generation of scholars in child development

Pakistani young children and LEAPS youth leader engaging in an education lesson. Photo: Courtesy LEAPS

Next steps

In their closing remarks, the authors underscored the urgent need to expand the evidence that will engage 1) government officials and policy-makers around the globe to invest in ECD, and 2) parenting services and to limit the negative impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on children.

Washtenaw County, Michigan Head Start school in Superior Township. Dwight Burdette, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.
Washtenaw County, Michigan Head Start school in Superior Township. Dwight Burdette, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.
Washtenaw County, Michigan Head Start school in Superior Township. Photo: Dwight Burdette | Wikimedia Commons.

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