Professional Resource

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BOARD MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Barbara A. Thompson

An Interview with Barbara Thompson

Editor’s Note: We’ve invited ZERO TO THREE Board Member, Barbara Thompson, to share her perspectives and reflections with you. Ms. Thompson has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2017 and is currently serving her second term on the Board. You can learn more about her long career supporting military families on her bio page on the ZERO TO THREE website.

Former Director, Office of Military Family Readiness Policy, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy

1. What has it meant to you to a be a member of ZERO TO THREE’s Board of Directors?

As a graduate Irving Harris fellow and having experience with current and former Board members, I was so honored to even be considered for a position on the Board. The dedication, knowledge, science, diversity, and visionary thinking the Board brings to the field is inspiring, sometimes intimidating, and always so focused on providing the highest level of professional and parental support, regardless of the audience. This is my opportunity to give back to the ZERO TO THREE family—staff, fellows, and Board members who have supported me and my endeavors to ensure children and their families have every resource they need to thrive. And, every experience I have had has enriched my work and focus, and for that I am very grateful.

2. What is happening at ZERO TO THREE right now that you are most excited about?

There is a renewed focus on the needs of families, and I have great hope that the work undertaken by ZERO TO THREE will shine a beacon on ways the federal government can improve the outcomes for at-risk children and families. The positive impact HealthySteps is having across the country and at a few pilot sites in the Department of Defense needs to be expanded. HealthySteps is a model, multidisciplinary approach to caring for the many needs of families and children. Another area of primary focus, which could not be more timely, is the work targeting racial equity, diversity, and inclusion. This is foundational and both staff and Board members are diving deeply into how ZERO TO THREE can make a difference to change this nation’s trajectory.

3. As you observe the world around you, what is an issue affecting young children and their families and caregivers that concerns you? How do you think ZERO TO THREE can help?

As we continue to struggle with the ramifications of the pandemic, I worry about the health disparities throughout the world. Secondly, I worry about the misinformation/disinformation that has permeated and divided our societies. And while these worries will require an enormous international collaboration, ZERO TO THREE can be the voice of accurate information, that is fact- and data-driven, to change misconceptions about families and children less privileged and advocate for their needs to our congressional representatives and be a leader on the world stage.

4. As you look toward the future, what do you see on the horizon for families with young children and/or for the professionals who work with and support them?

My particular discipline is early care and education, and I think this is the time to overhaul the current child care system to ensure every child and family has access to high-quality affordable child care that also provides holistic services so that parents and children thrive. This will take an enormous investment from both the federal and state governments, which cannot be a one-time shot in the arm, but has to be sustainable in the out years. It will also mean better training and higher compensation for the professionals entrusted with the care and development of our youngest citizens.

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