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Guest Profile

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Cynthia Osborne


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About Cynthia Osborne

Dr. Cynthia Osborne is the Associate Dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin. She is also the founder and director of the Child and Family Research Partnership (CFRP) and leads its national Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center, home of the Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap (2020) for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.


Osborne is an appointed member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Mathematics Committee to Reduce Child Poverty by Half in Ten Years. She serves as the Chair of the Responsible Fatherhood working group for the Fatherhood Research and Practice Network, a long-term project of the federal United States Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation. She is an elected member of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management Policy Council, the leadership team responsible for setting policy and strategy for the association. Osborne previously served as director of the Project on Education Effectiveness and Quality, an initiative at the LBJ School of Public Affairs that measured state educator preparation programs’ influence on student achievement.


Osborne's teaching and research interests are in the areas of social policy, poverty and inequality, family and child wellbeing, and family demography. She has extensive experience leading long-term evaluations of state and national programs, with the aim of helping organizations understand what works, and how to ensure sustainable implementation of effective policies. Her work includes evaluations of one of the largest home visiting programs in the United States and many critical state-level child welfare and child support programs.


Osborne holds a Ph.D. in Demography and Public Affairs from Princeton University, a Master in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and a Master of Arts in Education from Claremont Graduate University. Previously, she taught middle school in a low-income community in California.


Episode Overview

Director of the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center, Cynthia Osborne, discusses how to engage with elected officials and policymakers on the topic of early childhood development.


Cynthia will be hosting the 'National Prenatal-to-3 Research to Policy Summit' on 15th September 2020. A virtual event open to everyone which will feature Prof Jack Shonkoff of Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child, Gov DeWine of Ohio, Gov Lujan Grisham of New Mexico and various other experts and policymakers.


During the podcast, we hear how early childhood is a period of incredible importance. It is the time when brain development is happening most rapidly.


Cynthia notes how children who are exposed to early adversity have higher rates of lung disease, heart disease, cancer and they engage in more risky behaviour – the earlier years really do shape the development of our brains and our body’s systems.  In the USA, children who are exposed to extreme adversity early in life have a life expectancy that is 20 years shorter than children who are exposed to very limited adversity.


We also hear Cynthia’s insight on the most effective policies that states can implement now and how different states in the USA compare with each other.


Cynthia’s key takeaway: She wants folks to understand just how important these first three years are, and to understand that we can actually do something to make it so that kids get off to the healthy start they deserve. Policies do represent the choices and the priorities that we have, and if we prioritise the fact that children deserve this healthy start then we know some of the answers for how to make that happen.

Please subscribe to the podcast and share widely. Thank you!

Additional Resources

National Prenatal-to-3 Research to Policy Summit - Website

Prenatal-to-3 Impact Center - Website

Cynthia Osborne - Profile Webpage

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