For many people these days, the word "policy" invokes thoughts of red and blue, left and right, elephants and donkeys. But for those in the research and policy group at the Urban Child Institute, the word is less dichotomous.

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The importance of children's earliest years has long been recognized, but our understanding of the underlying science has taken a significant leap in the past decades. Studies regularly document the effects that a child's earliest experiences can have on later life and adult health. There is a growing consensus among experts that a key mechanism linking childhood adversity to later health and well-being is the stress caused by early negative experiences. These early negative experiences manifest in neglect, emotional and physical abuse, and excessively harsh parenting.

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As many musicians in Memphis know, becoming an overnight success usually takes years of hard work. It's the same with early childhood brain development. The Urban Child Institute has been working for a decade with partners and community leaders to spread the word about how crucial this issue is to the future of Memphis and the region. Today it is clearer than ever that this message is finding a wide audience.

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