Last month, our organization was mentioned twice by Memphis Medical News in articles written by Bill Appling and Pamela Harris. Bill Appling's article, All Children Can Learn, talks about our Baby Small campaign and increased awareness of early childhood brain development in Memphis and Georgia. Pamela Harris's article mentions the efforts of several organizations working to improve the health of children born in impoverished communities, including The Urban Child Institute.

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The importance of early years experience on the developing brain and children's developmental trajectories is a message the science community has long sent – and it's a message that has been well received by policy and practice over the past decade. Indeed, the upsurge in pre-school provision such as Head Start in the US and Sure Start in the UK indicates the importance placed on early years by policy makers.

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Like most urban systems, Memphis City Schools have demonstrated the kind of achievement numbers that keep school reformers up at night. One in three students fail to graduate, and those who continue remain far behind by all achievement measures. Just 4 percent of seniors score well enough on entrance exams to qualify to take college-level courses without remedial work.

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The Urban Child Institute today released the sixth edition of its definitive publication about the state of children in Memphis and Shelby County, Data Book 2011, a comprehensive report that annually presents the facts about our community's children.

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Eugene Cashman, president and chief executive officer of The Urban Child Institute, has received the University of Tennessee College of Social Work's highest honor, recognizing him for his work to improve the lives of children in the Memphis area.

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