DVD and DVD + 3-Year Site/Local Streaming
5 episodes, 2015, Produced by California Newsreel with Vital Pictures, Inc. Dual language disc - Audio and Subtitles in English and Spanish
ABOUT THE FILM
The Raising of America, by the producers of Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? and RACE - The Power of an Illusion, is the ground-breaking documentary series, online learning hub and public engagement campaign which reframes the way Americans look at early child health and development. It illustrates how a strong start for all our kids leads not only to better learning, earning, and physical and mental health but also to a healthier, safer, better educated, more prosperous nation.
A full suite of video clips, interactives, discussion guides, action tool kits and other resources can be found on the companion online hub at www.raisingofamerica.org .
EPISODE 1 THE RAISING OF AMERICA--Signature Hour (58 min.)
The U.S. is the wealthiest, most powerful country in the world. So why has our child well-being fallen to 26th? An alarming number of American children are following low developmental trajectories from the start. They enter adulthood with learning challenges and mental and physical health difficulties.
But population health is not all that’s at risk, researchers argue. By under-investing in early childhood we are also under-developing America
What infants and toddlers need for a strong start is no mystery. A nurturing environment - safe, stable, and responsive – builds sturdy brain architecture, the foundation for future development. The Raising of America interweaves discoveries from neuroscience with vivid stories of families and communities struggling to provide that nurturing environments their youngest children need. Too often they find their efforts hindered by social and economic forces: stagnant wages and job insecurity, lack of paid parental and family leave, childcare that is both poor quality and financially out of reach, racial stigma and social exclusion.
This growing squeeze for time, money and resources has made American middle-class life increasingly precarious. A 20-year Wisconsin study shows that stressors on parents when their children are infants and toddlers increase the risk of those children growing up with a hyper-reactive ‘fight-or-flight’ stress response. The personal and social costs? More emotional, behavior, substance abuse and learning problems later in life.
Those facing the highest risks however, are the one in four children born into poverty, their parents often feeling anxious and fearful they won’t be able provide what their children need in our fend-for-yourself society.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We all benefit when we as a society better assure that communities, families and caregivers can provide the conditions in which all children have the opportunity to flourish. Pre-school teacher Aiyauna Terry, embracing her young students, puts the challenge this way: “This is the future right here. Invest in them. Invest in their parents. If you want America to get back on top, invest in these children now. They’re not going to fail you, but we can’t fail them now.” The fate of the nation may hang in the balance.
EPISODE 2 ONCE UPON A TIME: When Childcare for All Wasn't Just a Fairy Tale (32 min)
Imagine how things might be different if all America’s children had access to high-quality early care and education for the past four decades? They almost did.
Back in 1971, a bi-partisan Congress passed a bill providing high-quality, universal childcare, home visiting and other services from birth to age five to every family that wanted it. But it was vetoed by President Nixon at the 11th hour.
The veto statement, written by a young White House speech writer, Patrick Buchanan, was the first time ‘family values’ were invoked to undermine families. The veto marked a seminal inflection point from our path towards a more inclusive society to today’s fend-for-yourself nation. We came achingly close to securing high quality childcare for all once. What has the nation learned during the intervening decades?
EPISODE 3 ARE WE CRAZY ABOUT OUR KIDS? (32 min)
A growing number of economists are worried about our investments in early childhood. Not because we’re spending too much but because we’re spending too little where it matters most.
Nobel laureate economist James Heckman, former Federal Reserve vice president Arthur Rolnick and others walk viewers through the Perry Preschool, Abecedarian and other classic studies which showed how investing in high-quality early care and education yields huge individual and social benefits, and even pays for itself many times over.
How crazy are we about our kids? Are we willing to invest for success today – or resigned to paying more for failure tomorrow?
Combat vets and survivors of wars and natural disasters aren’t the only people susceptible to PTSD. Too many of our children, especially children of color living in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty, show the effects of unrelenting structural racism, street violence, domestic instability and other adversities every day. And their symptoms look a lot like post-traumatic stress disorder. Except for many, there is no “post.”
Traveling to Philadelphia and Oakland, this episode brings viewers the harrowing stories of children traumatized by violence and adversity and suffering hyper-vigilance, nightmares, impulse control and depression.
But these remarkable kids, along with community organizers and providers like John Rich, MD, are helping blaze a new path. They begin by asking not, “What’s wrong with you?” but rather “What happened to you?” and, “How can traumatized children and neighborhoods heal?”
EPISODE 5 DNA IS NOT DESTINY: How the Outside Gets Under the Skin (37 min)
Fetal and early childhood experiences and environments – chemical, family, socio-economic – literally become part of us. But how?
In DNA is Not Destiny McGill University's Michael Meaney and other scientists walk viewers through some of the classic experiments which revealed how disadvantage and adverse experiences, especially during gestation and the early years, can get under the skin by altering the molecular ‘volume controls’ or ‘dimmer switches’ called the epigenome which help regulate gene expression.
These changes to the epigenome are in turn associated with subsequent changes in the developing brain, with potential enduring consequences for emotional health and behaviors, cognitive functions, risk for obesity, even some cancers.
Our genes don’t change. But since the epigenome “listens” and responds to the environment, scientists are concluding that improved social conditions can actually provide the biological foundations for lives that are healthier and more likely to thrive. And that’s good news.
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"An extraordinarily important and moving film… Anyone caring about our country's future needs to see it, discuss it, and ask our politicians how they propose to improve conditions for all our youngest children and their families."
Barry Zuckerman, MD, Founder, Reach Out and Read
"Offers a powerful wake-up call….This important film reveals how we consistently underinvest in our youngest children and fail to provide the supports families need…We can and must all do more."
Mary Bassett, MD, MPH, New York City Commissioner of Health
"A stirring call to action!... The Raising of America underscores the clear and compelling science: supporting families and enriching the early experiences of our children makes us a better and stronger nation."
Harvey Karp, MD, FAAP, Author, The Happiest Toddler on the Block
"This brilliant film should be used to start conversations throughout our communities, our states and hopefully, our nation about how we can better assure every child a strong start – and our nation a brighter future."
"Offers powerful testimony to why we must comprehensively invest in the lives of our parents and children—so that every family has the chance for stability, health, and success."
Malika Saada Saar, Founder, Rights4Girls
"Makes a compelling case for the roadmap that will make the United States a much healthier nation. Should we follow this pathway we are sure to…be amongst the healthiest nations in a generation."
Georges C. Benjamin, MD, Executive Director, American Public Health Association
"Should be required viewing for every lawmaker, employer and advocate in this country. It weaves together a powerful mix of historical facts, personal narratives, expert opinions and data…As a nation, we must do more to build a better future and this film provides a roadmap for how to get there."
Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families
“Most hard-working American families do everything they can for their children’s sake. Yet more and more are finding that no matter how hard they try, they just can’t provide for their children’s basic needs, putting our nation’s future in jeopardy. The Raising America shines a bright light on these families’ everyday heroism, the hope and potential that live inside every child, and the practical steps we all can take to get our country back on the road to progress before it’s too late.”
Joshua Sparrow, MD, Director, Brazelton Touchpoints Center, Boston Children's Hospital
"A beautiful mind is a terrible thing to waste, but by neglecting the basic needs of our smallest and most vulnerable citizens, America does it every day. This powerful documentary should focus our energies on building the vital resources needed for early childhood health and development."