There was hardly a dry eye in the audience following Saturday’s screening of the new PBS documentary, The Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of Our Nation. This illuminating film featured moving testimonials from families living in poverty or just barely getting by due to the high cost of quality childcare. The film included facts about the critical brain development that occurs during ages 0-5, and how many children in struggling families are missing out on access to stimulating and education-rich environments and opportunities. Instead, stress (in the form of cortisol) is passed on from parent to child, which leaves a lasting imprint on the child’s development and functioning. This stress follows him or her into adulthood…setting the scene for a cycle that can continue for generations.
Clocking in at about an hour, the documentary was extremely powerful and will provoke libraries–and anyone who cares about nurturing a nation of strong, smart, and independent children–to carefully consider ways we can work together as a community to level the playing field for all children. As the film points out, that moment almost came in 1971, when Congress passed a bill for universal childcare and developmental services for young children. Unfortunately, Nixon vetoed it. Imagine the ways this country may be different today had those services been available for all these decades. Isn’t it time for that change to happen now?
Resources at the panel included:
The Raising of America Web site – Features clips from the documentary series, resources, and ways to take action. The documentary DVD was released in June 2015 and will air on public television soon (time TBD).
For Our Babies – A national movement focusing on efforts to support children age 0-3. A book, For Our Babies: Ending the Invisible Neglect of America’s Infants by J. Ronald Lally, is available and a suggested book club choice and conversation-starter.
Early Learning 2.0 with Families: Enriching Library Services for Families – Co-presenter, the California State Library, offered information on the ELF (Early Learning with Families) initiative. Through ELF, California libraries may receive training and resources to support family-friendly and developmentally appropriate services to aid families with children ages 0-5.