Rapid Response Process


SRCD has committed to expanding its engagement on social and public policy issues that are informed by child development research. To this end, we seek to be both proactive and rapidly reactive to such issues as they arise. Our power and authority as an organization stems from our ability to showcase our science. The goal of this process is to enable any member of our organization to nominate a topic for rapid engagement. This process involves consultation with policy and content experts among the membership, SRCD executive staff, Caucuses and committees, and governing council representation. Dissemination of evidence of relevance to children and families from adversely affected marginalized and vulnerable populations globally is especially important. This preliminary process will evolve based on feedback and assessments of efficacy.

SRCD’s unique contributions to public/government discourse rest on our status as a scholarly organization, and our power stems from our research focus. The Rapid Response process is guided by several overarching principles to which SRCD’s Governing Council is committed: 

  1. SRCD will generate exclusively research-focused responses. Stand-alone position statements or opinion statements will not be generated, and engagement will only occur when there is compelling research evidence addressing the issue. 
  2. SRCD will be judicious about drawing evidence-based assertions only when the preponderance of evidence is weighty and clear. Limited research or lack of research consensus may be grounds for a non-response, although the Governing Council may also opt to generate a response explicitly noting that research consensus is lacking.
  3. SRCD is committed to conducting briefings or preparing evidence summaries for governmental representatives when relevant, including members of federal legislative bodies or their staff. However, Governing Council has a standing policy against direct lobbying for or against specific pieces of legislation.

Rapid Assessment and Response Strategy Team

To support the ability to respond rapidly to current events relevant to Developmental Science, the process below involves the formation of a response team. The Rapid Assessment and Response Strategy (RARS) Team will serve in an advisory capacity and will be responsible for delving deeply into the content and implications of any nominated issue before formulating a recommendation. 

The RARS Team will consist of nine members representing various constituencies from the SRCD membership.

RARS Team (January 1, 2019 - December 31, 2021)
Group of Representation Representative Name Affiliation
Science & Social Policy Committee Caitlin Lombardi University of Connecticut
Tri-Caucus Eleanor Seaton Arizona State University
International Affairs Committee Charissa Cheah University of Maryland - Baltimore County
Ethnic & Racial Issues/Equity & Justice Committees Christia Brown University of Kentucky
Teaching Committee Virginia Tomkins Ohio State University - Lima
Governing Council Stephen Russell University of Texas at Austin
At-Large Member Zewelanji Serpell Virginia Commonwealth University
At-Large Member Ruby Takanishi New America
At-Large Member Heather Hill University of Washington



Process for Reviewing Rapid Response Requests

Step 1. Action is triggered by a proposal submitted to SRCD Executive Staff to respond

A proposal to consider rapid response to an issue may be submitted by members of the Executive Committee, Governing Council, Policy Committee, other committees or Caucuses, SRCD executive staff, or individual members.


Proposals should be submitted to SRCD’s Director for Policy (Kelly R. Fisher, kfisher@srcd.org) or Interim Executive Director (Martha Zaslow, mzaslow@srcd.org) via email. Please describe the issue or concern and articulate how and why you think developmental science can address the issue. Indicate whether you see this as an urgent request requiring immediate but briefer action, or a chronic issue that might warrant more comprehensive consideration and engagement. If you are familiar with specific researchers or areas of literature, please share those as well. Your request will be acknowledged and reviewed by SRCD Executive Staff (Executive Director, Director for Policy, Director for Science, and Director of Communications) and President.


The Executive Staff and the President will review the request and assess whether it warrants consideration for a rapid response. The bar will be set low for proceeding to Step 2.

Step 2. Governing Council will consider whether the proposal to respond warrants consideration.

Upon notification by the Executive staff, the GC will generally respond within 48 hours with an initial assessment of whether to proceed to Step 3 based on whether they believe the issue is relevant and is likely to have sufficient evidence to generate an evidence-based response.

Step 3. Executive Staff activate SRCD’s Rapid Assessment and Response Strategy (RARS) Team which evaluates the proposal and consults as appropriate with content experts.

Executive staff and RARS Team will coordinate to determine whom to consult to solicit additional content expertise as appropriate from among committees, Caucuses, and other members. Following input from content experts, RARS Team will confer to determine their recommended course of action

Step 4. RARS Team conveys recommendation to executive staff regarding whether and if so, how to respond.

Step 5. Executive staff brief GC about the issue.

Step 6. GC confers and notifies executive staff of decision regarding whether and if so, how to respond.

Step 7. Executive staff implement decision.

Step 8.  Executive staff responds as needed to any member/public reactions.

Note: A decision not to continue the Rapid Response process for a given topic does not preclude SRCD from taking other action to address a given topic. The Rapid Response is one mechanism SRCD has for addressing issues of significance, timeliness, and relevance, but is not the only mechanism for SRCD engagement on issues in the public interest.


Rapid Response Case Nomination Status

Date Initiated Nominated Topic Description Status Outcome
5/27/20 Request for SRCD to provide guidance on how developmental science can inform the aspiration to become an antiracist society Case Completed SRCD produces webinar - Becoming an Antiracist Society: Setting A Developmental Research Agenda


4/15/20 Request for SRCD to address the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on racial and ethnic minority children, youth, and families Case Completed SRCD produces webinar – Supporting Asian/Asian American Children and Youth During the COVID-19 Pandemic, and a new Statement of the Evidence volume- Addressing Inequities in Education in the Era of COVID-19 on Marginalized Communities.
12/19/19 Request from the ACLU for SRCD to author an amicus brief about the harm of gender stereotypes on development Case Completed SRCD Co-Develops Amicus Brief on Gender-Differentiated Policies and Practices
12/10/19 Request for SRCD to be listed as a supporter of an externally-authored policy brief, “Addressing Trauma Caused by Separation of Migrant, Refugee, and Asylum-Seeking Children." Case Completed Externally-authored product best-suited for dissemination by SRCD.
9/25/2019 Request for SRCD to consider amicus brief on consequences of U.S. DACA rescission on recipient's children Case Completed SRCD Joins Other Child Health Experts in Support of Amicus Describing Traumatic Impact of DACA Rescission on Recipients’ Children
3/31/2019 Request for SRCD to produce developmental science guidance on interviewing unaccompanied children at the U.S. border Case Completed SRCD produces Child Evidence BriefQuestioning Unaccompanied Immigrant Children: Lessons from Developmental Science on Forensic Interviewing