Our Mission

The National Center for Children and Families advances the policy, education, and development of children and their families. Housed at Teachers College, Columbia University, our efforts are built on a commitment to offer research-based approaches to contemporary social and public problems affecting underserved children and families. In the course of these efforts, we challenge the status quo that perpetuates inequalities among children, and their eventual success as productive citizens. Specifically, we pursue the following three goals:

Goal One

The Production Of The Highest Quality Policy-Relevant Research

NCCF brings together leading scholars and graduate students from psychology, education, health, family studies, psychiatry, sociology, economics, and political science in the interdisciplinary analysis of complex social phenomena. NCCF collaborates with various schools of Columbia University and departments at Teachers College, and with centers engaged in similar work nationally and internationally. Research projects span a broad spectrum of activities within the context of five related research themes:

Early Care and Education Families
Neighborhood/Community Social Context of Education
Systems/Governance International

Goal Two

Preparation of Leaders Through Training and Research Opportunities

NCCF Co-Directors and Research Scientists actively mentor and train masters- and doctoral-level students to become world-class leaders in child and family policy and research. They provide guidance for projects, policy research, and policy briefs and analyses for state, federal, and international agencies. In this process, our graduate fellows and researchers acquire training and skills that prepare them for positions where they can make a positive impact in research, policy, and academia.

Students with policy and research interests in children and families may be considered for Graduate Fellowships. Research Scientists are an integral part of NCCF, managing specific projects, training master’s- and doctoral-level students, and writing policy reports. Research Affiliates are junior faculty at various academic institutions who often have had their primary affiliation with NCCF; as Research Affiliates, they work with NCCF personnel on research studies. Research Assistants provide support on research and policy projects. Additionally, NCCF offers practica to between 25 and 30 master’s and doctoral students each year. Our research and fellowship opportunities include:

Federal Policy Institute Senior Research Scientists (post-doctoral fellows)
NCCF Graduate Fellowships Ed.D., Early Childhood, Policy Focus
Graduate and Research Assistants Ph.D., Developmental Psychology, Politics and Education
Research Practicum

Goal Three

The Construction of Social Policy

Our research work provides the foundation for participation in activities that inform and help shape policies affecting children and families. Using a constructive, integrative strategy that engages lawmakers, education administrators, practitioners, and researchers, we seek to improve social policy and promote equity throughout society. We provide our expertise to state and national committees, conduct inventories of early childhood education policies, partner with states to establish voluntary rating systems for early care and education, and work with other nations to establish early learning standards. Additionally, our policy outreach activities include:

Congressional Testimony State Consultations
National Panels Working with the Media
Drafting Legislation Creating Standards
Public Speaking Publishing