Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald

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Improving early child development with words

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald is on a mission to close the “30 million word gap.”

As Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), Fitzgerald is committed to giving Georgia kids the best possible chance for success. A study by researchers Betty Hart and Todd Risley found that some children heard thirty million fewer words by their 4th birthdays than others, leading to demonstrated lower achievement.

Fitzgerald has helped mobilize resources to address the gap as a way to help improve the early education problem in Georgia today. In addition to the Department of Public Health, Georgia Tech, and Emory University’s Marcus Autism Center as well as its School of Nursing are all on board. The United Way of Greater Atlanta has pledged $500,000 a year for three years to the program.

The simple practice of talking to babies and toddlers provides nourishment for their brains, setting them up for better performance in school, and even a higher IQ.