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Network of Infant/Toddler Researchers (NitR) Mission Statement


  • Programs serving pregnant women, infants, toddlers, and their families implement research-informed policies and practices that support children across the many domains of development.
  • Applied researchers studying programs serving pregnant women, infants, toddlers, and their families are guided by practice- and policy-informed research questions and methods.


The Network of Infant/Toddler Researchers (NitR) is a consortium that brings together leading applied researchers with policymakers and technical assistance providers responsible for overseeing and supporting early childhood programs serving families during pregnancy and the first 3 years of life. The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) convened the Network to answer questions of interest to ACF. The Network brings together researchers interested in policy and practice issues relevant to programs serving families during pregnancy and when children are infants and toddlers. This includes child care, home visiting, Early Head Start, and child welfare. NitR members collaborate and coordinate to encourage research-informed practice and practice-informed research as they:

  • Identify existing research that can inform policy and practice in ACF-relevant programs and work with federal staff to translate research for various audiences and purposes in innovative ways.

  • Identify barriers to the implementation of research-informed practice and think of creative strategies to overcome barriers.

  • Become more informed about ACF priorities and programs and identify topical and methodological research gaps to make research efforts more informed by practice and supportive of ACF-relevant programs serving pregnant women, infants, and toddlers.

  • Review the current knowledge base in order to distill and disseminate accrued knowledge, while also conceptualizing innovative research strategies to expand on the current state of the field.

  • Build capacity in the field of applied developmental science through facilitation of networking and collaboration among the participants of the Network to conduct research that would directly inform ACF-relevant programs serving pregnant women, infants, and toddlers. This includes explicit outreach and mentoring of junior faculty and graduate students.

Guiding Principles

The following principles are important to keep in mind as NitR considers its work:

  • We are focused on pregnant women and children in the age range of birth to 3 years and their families.

  • We are dedicated to bridging the knowledge sharing and communication gap among research, policy, and practice. We do this by bringing together researchers, policy makers, and technical assistance providers to conduct our work.

  • We are dedicated to addressing questions of the highest priority to both ACF and the research community.

  • We are dedicated to collaboration and building relationships.

  • We are dedicated to providing enriching professional development and networking opportunities for our members.

  • We are committed to growing the field by inviting emerging scholars, including students and junior faculty, to be involved in Network activities.

APPENDIX A: Definitions

Member: Non-federal participant in the activities of the Network of infant/toddler Researchers

Federal Team: OPRE staff

Federal Partners: Federal staff from offices outside of OPRE and/or ACF that participate in the activities of the NitR

APPENDIX B: Parameters and Guidelines

  1. Members will not be provided with privileged government information.
  2. Members will not be prohibited from applying for funding opportunities that emerge from ideas shared within the Network of Infant/Toddler Researchers.
  3. A steering committee composed of a rotating assembly of members will advise OPRE on matters related to this consortium.

APPENDIX C: Activities

The proposed list of potential activities is designed to address each of the proposed goals:

  1. Hold gatherings as well as on-going communication to build bridges among those doing research, policy, or practice in Early Head Start, child care, home visiting, and child welfare.

  2. Engage in discussions with OPRE, ACF program offices, and technical assistance providers to identify priority areas.

  3. Create a matrix of topics and bring all perspectives together (research, policy, program, technical assistance) to prioritize and compile what is known and not known about each topic.

  4. For priorities with insufficient data to address, suggest innovative strategies and pathways toward informing the field about issues related to the priority in question.

  5. Identify state-of-the-art and innovative approaches for emerging issues that have the potential to become priorities in the future.

  6. Participate in the dissemination of information. Means may include but are not limited to:

    1. Research briefs based on existing knowledge or secondary data analysis geared toward providing guidance to ACF programs.

    2. Presentations to ACF offices on what is known about a topic that could influence policy.

    3. Presentations or papers for researchers in order to engage a wider research audience in these questions.

    4. NitR website to share the work of the group, including products and knowledge from the consortium.

    5. Informal gatherings at conferences that include applied research on infant-toddler populations, such as the Society for Research in Child Development, National Research Conference on Early Childhood, World Association of Infant Mental Health, and ZERO-TO-THREE.

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