Science shows that a child's experiences during the earliest years are vital to building the foundation for lifelong individual success—in school and in life. Now economists are studying the costs and benefits of high-quality early care and preschool. And they're worried. Not because we're spending too much but because we're spending too little where it matters most.
Are We Crazy About Our Kids? brings to life the class studies of Perry Preschool and other initiatives conducted by Nobel Laureate James Heckman, former Federal Reserve economist Arthur Rolnick and others demonstrating how high-quality early care and preschool yield huge benefits—for individuals and society.
The film also travels to Quebec which rolled out a novel jobs and anti-poverty program: they introduced universal early care and pre-K for $7 a day, along with expanded paid parental leave and other family supports. Quebec child poverty rates fell from the highest in Canada to the lowest.
Back here in the U.S., childcare remains largely haphazard, unregulated and unaffordable for most. But pilot early education programs continue. A preschool initiative in Salt Lake City has closed the achievement gap between rich and poor, reversing a 30-year national trend.
High-quality childcare and preschool is just one piece of the solution. But economists are clear about the equation: Our system is paying for failure, rather than investing in success.
The question is: what will we do about it? How crazy are we about our kids?
RESOURCES For toolkits, guides and more information about The Raising of America documentary series and how to become involved in the public engagement campaign, visit the companion website now under development: www.raisingofamerica.org.
Producer / Director: James Rutenbeck Associate Producer: Liz Shea Senior Producer: Christine Herbes-Sommers Series Executive Producer: Larry Adelman
"Makes a vivid and compelling case that investing in policies and programs which support babies, young children and their families benefits us all...This film must be viewed and used as a springboard for action so that all children can realize their full potential."
Matthew Melmed, Executive Director, ZERO TO THREE
A splendid blend of first-rate case studies embedded with vital voices in education, economics, and government. It adds up to a powerful case for investment in the so-important early learning years.
David Lawrence Jr., retired publisher, Miami Herald; President of The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation
Makes a compelling case for the importance of smart investments in young children, which yield a lifetime of benefits for families, communities, and our country... Demonstrates why we must commit to making this care more available, affordable and of better quality.
Lynette M. Fraga, Ph.D., Executive Director, Child Care Aware of America
Powerfully illustrates why business leaders—who might seem unlikely to care about early childhood programs—are committed advocates for investments in early learning. Giving children a good beginning is vital to helping kids and our economy thrive.