A new documentary is being released this fall: “The Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of Our Nation.” The project, which also includes a multimedia series, “will reframe the way we look at early child health and development,” according to the temporary website.
The project “explores how a strong start for all our kids leads not only to better individual life course outcomes (learning, earning and physical and mental health) but also to a healthier, safer, better educated, more prosperous, and more equitable America.”
In a preview of the documentary, Judith Lichtman, senior advisor for the National Partnership for Women and Families, outlines the national challenge of supporting family. “We talk a good game in this country about being family friendly. But in providing for the economic and social needs of families we are woefully behind other countries.”
As the website explains, “The hour-long opening episode moves back and forth between the science of human development and stories of families and communities doing all they can to provide the rich and caring environments children need to thrive – yet too often hindered by an environment and social policies that seem to impede their every effort.”
The documentary is being produced by the nonprofit organization California Newsreel in conjunction with Boston-based Vital Pictures, a media company. This fall, a video will be released; a new website will be launched; and the documentary will air on PBS. There are also supporting episodes, including:
- Are We Crazy About Our Kids? The Cost/Benefit Equation
- DNA Is Not Destiny: How the Outside Gets Under the Skin
- Once Upon a Time: When Childcare for All Wasn’t Just a Fairytale
- Stressing Out the Poor? Building Community Resilience
- Wounded Places: Confronting Childhood PTSD in America’s Shell-Shocked Cities
Funding for the documentary comes from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the California Endowment, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation.
A National Campaign
The media component is part of the Raising of America National Public Engagement campaign, which “aims to change the conversation about what we as a society can — and should — do to ensure every infant has the opportunity for a strong start.”
“The Campaign is designed around three main pillars:”
- Targeted Public Engagement
- Reaching the Media, and
- Educational Dissemination
To join in the advocacy effort: “Use the series to change the conversation about what we as a society can — and should — do to make a nurturing child ecology the right of all infants,” the website says.
Specifically, campaign partners can:
- “Educate and tell a new story about the importance of early experience to healthy child development.”
- “Organize and spark dialogue and action that strengthens communities and supports child and family-friendly policies,” and
- “Advocate and advance the efforts of organizations that have long worked to tackle inequities and benefit America’s children.”
The campaign also calls for “asking new questions” such as: “What do babies ‘remember’?” “How does the outside literally get under the skin?” And: “Why, when we know so much, do we as a nation do so little?”
So watch the documentary or host a screening. And join the campaign to spread the word about how important a high-quality early education is to the entire country.