Resources for Early Childhood Development
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EPISODE 1: THE SIGNATURE HOUR. The science is clear: when parents are stressed, babies pay the price. That is why improving conditions for families with young children is one of the best investments any nation can make.
Economists are clear: investing in high-quality early care and education is good for our kids and communities, and even pays for itself many times over. So, why aren’t we investing?
Imagine how things would be different today if high-quality childcare and pre-K was affordable and available to every family who wanted it. It almost happened.
What happens to children and neighborhoods shaken by trauma and toxic stress? What does it take to heal?
The U.S. may still win the most gold medals in the Olympics every four years, but we are losing the child Olympics every day.
Paid leave is the rule, not the exception, in every other rich and middle income nation. How is it that in the wealthiest nation on earth we ask so many parents to make a trade-off: you can take time to recover from childbirth, bond with and nurture your new baby, but you’ll have to forfeit your pay?
Since helping our babies and young children thrive is one of the most vital jobs in any nation, the people who do this work in the U.S. must be paid well, right?
Food banks to feed the hungry have become as much a part of our economic landscape as tax breaks for billionaire hedge fund managers. Neither seems to provoke much surprise, alarm or anger anymore. But diaper banks?
That parents are increasingly stressed is no surprise. But how might that stress drip down on their babies?
The Wisconsin team found weaker connections in the neural circuits connecting the amygdala with the prefrontal cortex in teenage girls whose parents reported higher stress when the girls were infants. It was as if the threat signals from the amygdala weren’t getting through and couldn’t be assessed properly by the prefrontal cortex.
Not all stress is the same. There's good stress (for developing), bad stress (from which we can recover), and toxic stress (which is the worst in the long run).
The High/Scope Perry Preschool study examined the short- and long-term effects of a high-quality preschool education program for young children living in poverty, collecting data on the students through age 40. The program operated from 1962 to 1967 in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
Income inequality is not the only gap that has been growing dramatically in the United States over the past forty years. The gap in educational achievement between the rich and everybody else has widened greatly as well.
Wounded Places chronicles the stories of children shaken by violence and adversity and asks not “What's wrong with you?” but “What happened to you?"
Once Upon a Time allows us to imagine how things might be different if all of America’s children had access to high-quality early care and education—in fact, we almost did.
Life is full of unexpected demands - the car breaks down, the kids get sick. For some families, these are merely speed bumps. But for other families, they can be thrown completely off the tracks.
Brains are built. Our early relationships and environments, our history, literally get under the skin and shape the architecture of our developing brain.
In a pioneering experiment, McGill University’s Michael Meaney showed that newborn rat pups which were licked and groomed by their mothers after birth grew up to be relatively calm and inquisitive. But pups of low-licking and grooming mothers grew up to be on a flight-or-flight stress trigger. Does this apply to humans as well?
When the ACE survey included questions about racism, safety and violence, researchers discovered that 37% of Philadelphians reported four or more ACEs.
The students attending this high-quality early ed program were followed for 50 years. What did we learn?
Families are expected to do it alone. Yet other sectors of our society receive billions in state support.
A Salt Lake City school district is closing the achievement gap and radically cutting special ed costs by investing early in high-quality preschool.
In 2012, in Connecticut alone, almost 2,000 children 6 years and under—overwhelmingly black and Latino—were suspended from kindergarten and preschool.
Children who experience violence, neglect, hunger, housing insecurity, abuse and other serious trauma in their early years may experience PTSD-like symptoms, which makes healthy learning and development all that more challenging.
Professor Jane Costello of Duke University Medical School was conducting a study of rural children in the Great Smokey Mountains of North Carolina, a quarter of whom were Cherokee, when the tribe opened a casino. This allowed Professor Costello to conduct a natural experiment because soon casino profits started flowing to Cherokee families and cut the Cherokee poverty rate by half.
Ashley, a single mom in Maine dependent on meager public assistance, worries about the health and well-being of her two young girls.
Dr. Renee Boynton-Jarrett describes what a child feels: Is this a safe world? What will happen when I feel afraid? What will happen when I feel hungry?
We know that people who’ve suffered trauma are often left not only with physical but also psychological injuries.
Many children in our society feel like a truck is coming at them all day long, for more days than not, and this really takes a toll.
Children don't need to be injured to be hurt. Chronic stress, adversity and trauma can hurt them just as much.
Healing the hurt of young people begins with asking not, “What’s wrong with you?” but “What happened to you?”
This New York Times article and this episode of comedian John Oliver’s TV show illustrate a municipal practice which combines the entanglements of Kafka with the debtors' prisons of Dickens.
Which rich nations have the lowest child poverty rates? It depends on whether their governments are stepping in to help.
Workers in America have been some of the most productive in the world over the past century. But those same workers may not be the ones benefiting from their hard work.
Just a few decades ago, the U.S. was among the world’s leaders when it came to indicators of how well our children were doing. Today, we're Number One in a whole lot of other ways.
How do our social environments (nurturing, toxic, and in-between) alter the epigenetic ‘dimmer switches’ that turn our genes on and off—with enduring consequences?
Proven programs like high-quality early care and ed and the nurse-family partnership can help buffer the effects of poverty. But if we really want to improve life prospects for poor kids we need to reduce the number of poor kids. Which means increasing their families’ incomes.
Every major economy on the planet assures paid maternity or family leave – except the U.S.
It’s hard to try to make everything work. You feel pulled in all different directions.
More than 80 billion brain cells. That’s how many a baby is born with. But it’s the connections between cells that matter.
The nation’s single largest employer provides government funded childcare. It’s high-quality and it’s affordable.
To imagine how the US will do tomorrow, we need only ask how its children are doing today. International data sounds a warning.
How might child developmental paths be affected by the stressors parents face when their kids are babies? In Wisconsin, researchers followed 500 children for two decades to find out.
Nobody does this alone. Nobody does this in isolation. The environment that the family lives in matters.
Is this what we’ve decided as society, that this degree of tension, these complex trade-offs are the norm, to be expected, just a part of raising a child?
The capacity of the brain and the human spirit to continue and thrive and develop is beyond what any of us could predict.
When women were suddenly propelled into the workforce during WWII, the government responded.
Humans are resilient organisms and studies show that negative epigenetic effects need not be permanent.
If social conditions can “get under the skin” and modify our biology, are less-affluent children being primed for more problems in life?
Rat mothers like to build nests for their pups with soft materials. But these moms have only been given hard, scratchy, inferior building supplies.
We’ve long known that early life can last a lifetime. Now new science shows how our experiences can become imprinted in our biology, altering gene expression.
This PDF takes you through the screens of the Child Olympics activity. We see that the United States performed poorly in the latest Child Olympics - in infant mortality, child poverty, preschool enrollment and high school graduation.
From 1948 to 1979, wages in America matched its explosive growth in productivity. But since then, productivity has risen dramatically and wages have barely moved at all.
Family income earned by the top 5% and the bottom 20% grew in tandem from the 1940s to the 1970s. But since then, income for the top 5% has grown and grown and grown while income for the bottom 20% has stagnated.
The gap in achievement scores between rich kids and poor kids has grown just as fast as the income gap.
Which neuron is damaged by toxic stress? For neuroscientists, the answer is clear.
Scientists detected changes in the brain architecture of 18 year-olds whose parents had reported being under chronic stress when those same adolescents were babies.
Parents and caregivers are left to fend for themselves in a society that’s unresponsive to family needs.
Many nations use government assistance and tax programs to raise children and families out of poverty. To see how much these transfers and taxes matter, compare the child poverty rates BEFORE and AFTER government benefits. Which countries end up with the lowest percentage of their children living in poverty? And which the highest?
Economists rarely turn their attention to the world of early childhood and preschool. But with a wealth of scientific research pointing to the importance of a child’s earliest years, several economists are worried about our investments in early childhood.
The Raising of America reframes the way we look at early child health and development. This ambitious documentary series and multimedia initiative by the producers of UNNATURAL CAUSES: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? 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 and more prosperous and equitable America.
Just a few decades ago, the U.S. was among the world’s leaders when it came to indicators of how well our children were doing. Today, we’re Number One in a whole lot of other ways.
Discussion Guide for Wounded Places (Episode 4)
Discussion Guide for The Raising of America Signature Hour (Episode 1)
Discussion Guide for Once Upon a Time (Episode 2)
Discussion Guide for Are We Crazy About Our Kids? (Episode 3)
How are we doing in caring for our children? Are we setting our children—and our nation—up for success?
This is the 30-second trailer that you can embed on your website for The Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of Our Nation, the 5-part documentary series that seeks to reframe the way Americans look at early childhood health and development.
Working behind the scenes, Pres. Nixon and his young White House speech writer, Patrick Buchanan, shocked Congress when they invoked ‘family values’ for the first time to undercut families.
Then Senator (and former VP) Walter Mondale describes how a bi-partisan Congress assured high-quality childcare and other services from birth to age five for every family that wanted it back in 1971.