A child’s development is a dynamic process, especially from 0 to 6 years of age — known as early childhood — when their neurological structures and brain connections are developed, in addition to the acquisition of psychological, biological, and social skills. The experiences lived during this period can generate impacts that will accompany the individual for the rest of their life in terms of behavior, health, academic, and professional performance.
In Brazil, socioeconomic, educational, and cultural barriers still prevent children from developing their full potential. Given this scenario, CPAPI – Centro Brasileiro de Pesquisa Aplicada à Primeira Infância (or Brazilian Center for Early Child Development) aims to promote integral child development through scientific research at the frontier of knowledge to help formulate public policies based on scientific evidence for children.
Launched in 2021, CPAPI is an initiative of the NCPI with the support of its partner organizations – Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University (HCDC), David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, The Universidade de São Paulo Medical School, Bernard van Leer Foundation, Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation, Insper, and Porticus América Latina. The Center will be managed by and headquartered at Insper and is linked to the São Paulo State Research Support Foundation (FAPESP).
As a priority of its research agenda, the Center proposes to improve national home visiting programs through the creation of technologies and the collection of unprecedented data on child development. The information collected will allow forming a baseline to plan and evaluate interventions to qualify public policies for early childhood. In addition, CPAPI has knowledge sharing among its primary activities. Such knowledge is acquired through research and technologies transferring to public managers.
The CPAPI research component’s primary focus is the measurement of child development in various ways to create interventions that improve the efficiency of home visitation programs, parental skills in promoting comprehensive care, and the performance of community health workers (CHW).
The researchers intend to monitor groups of newborns in selected towns in the state of São Paulo to cross-check the information recorded in the Caderneta da Criança with data obtained through instruments for assessing child development. At the same time, biological data will be collected, such as sleep patterns, neural networks, epigenetic markers, and polygenic risk.
– Technology transfer
The CPAPI team will develop an open-source platform to store the data collected from Caderneta da Criança (which will be collected through mobile and tablet applications) and from the administrative records of education and health. This platform will be accessible to professionals and public managers of the towns participating in the study to support public policies’ creation and improvement.
CPAPI will also work with health professionals through training on the proper use of Caderneta da Criança, in addition to developing protocols and materials for CHWs to encourage families to ask for the Caderneta to be filled out in Basic Health Clinics (Unidades Básicas de Saúde, UBS).
– Knowledge sharing
The Center will host training programs for health, education, and social assistance professionals on child development, families, parenting, early childhood, and public policies. CPAPI will also offer high school, undergraduate, and graduate students specialization courses on the importance of integral child development.
Almost all researchers who are part of CPAPI are also part of another existing initiative of the NCPI: the Scientific Committee.
Meet the group of experts that make up the Center’s team:
Director: Naercio Menezes Filho (Insper & FEA-USP)
Principal Researchers: Anna Maria Chiesa (EE-USP), Daniel Domingues dos Santos (FEA-RP/USP), Helena Brentani (FMUSP), Maria Beatriz Martins Linhares (FMRP-USP), Naercio Menezes Filho (Insper & FEA-USP) e Rogerio Lerner (IP-USP)
Associated Researchers: Alicia Matijasevich Manitto (UFPel & FMUSP), Antonio Jose Ledo Alvez da Cunha (FM-UFRJ), Charles Kirschbaum (Insper), Ciro Biderman (FGV), Darci Neves dos Santos (ISC/UFBA), Débora Falleiros de Mello (EERP-USP), Eurípedes Constantino Miguel Filho (FMUSP), Fernando Mazzilli Louzada (UFPR), Guilherme Polanczyk (FMUSP), Joana Simões de Melo Costa (IPEA), Luiz Guilherme Dácar da Silva Scorzafave (FEA-RP/USP) e Ricardo Paes de Barros (Insper)
Check out the recording of the CPAPI launch event, which featured institutional speeches from the Center’s partners, followed by a thematic panel on “Brazilian Challenges and Global Perspectives for Child Development”, with Aisha Yousafzai and Dana Charles McCoy, professors at Harvard University, and Flávio Cunha, professor at Rice University. The debate was moderated by Marcia Castro, also from Harvard University: