NYU Global TIES for Children: Using Science to Combat COVID-19

June 1, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Since our founding in 2014, a cornerstone of our mission at Global TIES for Children (TIES) has been to improve the design, implementation, and evaluation of programs and policies to promote children’s holistic development in crisis-affected contexts. People all over the world are now facing a global crisis, brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. This acute health crisis will have economic and political aftershocks for years to come. Science is our best weapon in the fight against the pandemic; it is also crucial to ensuring that children - and the people and systems that support them - can survive and thrive in the face of such unpredictability and adversity. At TIES, we are leveraging our deep knowledge of the science of child development and experience conducting research in crisis-affected contexts globally to respond to the pandemic and aftermath in four ways:  

1. Generating evidence to inform early childhood and education responses in low- and middle-income countries during the pandemic and its aftermath.

  • We are integrating remote data collection approaches into ongoing research to understand how children, caregivers, and teachers are coping with pandemic-related challenges and envisioning the future (for example in Lebanon, Jordan, and Bangladesh).
  • In collaboration with strategic partner organizations, we are rapidly designing and evaluating distance learning strategies and caregiver support programs to promote children’s health, learning, and well-being during the pandemic and aftermath.


  • We are undertaking secondary analyses of education program evaluations (e.g. in Ghana)  to generate insights into strategies that may best ensure equity in learning outcomes during the pandemic and aftermath.

2. Advising governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on existing evidence-based strategies for promoting children’s health, learning, and well-being in crisis contexts. 

  • Our leadership team has worked for decades to understand how adversity impacts community, school, and family systems and child development -- and to identify  interventions that support child, family, school, and community resilience. We are using this experience to help ensure that our partners are able to integrate best practices for supporting children’s learning and development into their response efforts (for example, the International Rescue Committee, BRAC, the Humanitarian Assistance Program, and the Ministry of Education of Peru). 

3. Highlighting the risks to, needs of, and the opportunities to support children, caregivers, and teachers during the pandemic and the aftermath. 

4. Collaborating in global efforts to collate measures and methods to generate COVID-related research about meeting the needs of children. 

  • We support initiatives to ensure that research (on early childhood development and education on the short- and long-term impacts of the pandemic and its aftermath) is coordinated, enhancing opportunities for learning.

We are living in a world where our individual and collective health hinges on high-quality measurement of whether people have the COVID-19 virus and on rigorous evidence of the effectiveness of vaccines and treatments. Now more than ever, we must require the same standard to ensure our children’s health, well-being, and learning: valid and reliable measurement of developmental processes and holistic learning outcomes and evidence that ECD and education programs are having an impact.

Looking ahead, we will share with you, through a series of emails on the first day of every month, our lessons learned as we adapt and expand our approaches to measuring and evaluating ECD and education program impact. We are eager to learn from you as well. Finally, we hope the learning generated through our collective response efforts can contribute to upholding such a standard for children and caregivers around the world, and in so doing, create a more equitable, peaceful, and just world.

Wishing you all health and safety,
Global TIES for Children