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Common Purpose
Sharing Responsibility for Child and Family Outcomes

Author: Lisbeth B. Schorr
Publication Date: October 2006

This keynote presentation was made at the Early Childhood Networking Meeting held September 25-26, 2006, in Reston, Virginia, to state Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) coordinating teams and reflects the views of Lisbeth B. Schorr, Lecturer in Social Medicine and Director of the Project on Effective Interventions at Harvard University and author of numerous books on successful program interventions for disadvantaged children. She also directs the Pathways Mapping Initiative and co-chairs the Aspen Institute’s Roundtable on Community Change.

I’m excited to be talking to you [the state ECCS teams], because the people in this room play a unique role in our national life today. As the barriers to improving the lives of disadvantaged children become ever larger and more complex, your role as bridge builders, connectors, and systems changers becomes ever more important. As many of you know, I’ve written a couple of books about what we know about what works to improve outcomes for children and families, especially disadvantaged children and families.

“And in the last several years, I’ve been part of a team assembling information about what works—particularly in early childhood—on a web site, PathwaysToOutcomes.org. It is crystal clear that as a society we know a great deal more about what works than we’re acting on. And the outcomes we’re achieving are far more modest than they would be if we applied the vast knowledge we now have. So why are we having so much trouble in applying what we know? I think there are two basic reasons...”