Updated July 30
Are We Crazy About Our Kids? (32 minutes) is one of the supporting episodes to the forthcoming documentary series, The Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of Our Nation, now in production.
Science has demonstrated that a child’s experiences during the earliest years are vital to building the foundation for lifelong 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.
Studies by former Federal Reserve economist Arthur Rolnick, Nobel laureate James Heckman and others conclude that high-quality early care and preschool yield huge individual – and public – benefits. Participants in Perry Preschool, Abcedarian and the Chicago Child-Parent Centers were more likely to graduate high school and college, get better jobs and contribute more in taxes; less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, be unemployed, go to jail or incur other social costs. The return on investment? Seven dollars or more for every dollar invested, depending on the study.
Are We Crazy About Our Kids? also travels to Quebec which rolled out a novel jobs and anti-poverty program. They introduced universal early care and preschool (from birth to age five) available to all parents at a cost of $7 a day, along with paid parental leave and other family supports. Child poverty in Quebec went from the highest to the lowest in Canada.
Back here in the U.S., child care remains largely haphazard, unregulated, and unaffordable for most. Many states have even cut back funding. But they continue to give billions in tax breaks to corporations in a competition to lure each other’s jobs, what former Fed economist Arthur Rolnick calls a “zero sum game” because not one net new job is created.
Yet small, high-quality pilot programs continue. One, a preschool initiative in Salt Lake City, has closed the achievement gap between rich and poor, reversing a 30-year national trend.
High-quality child care 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?
Each link takes you to the beginning of that segment and plays to the end of the video.
- Prologue: Economists Ponder Child Development: Why Start Early? (@ 0:00)
- First Happy Returns: The Perry Preschool Studies—Better Outcomes, Lower Social Costs (@ 3:49)
- Quebec Learns from the US: The Abecedarian and Chicago Parent-Child Center Studies (@ 7:24)
- "Quebec Is Crazy About Its Kids!": Reducing Poverty by Enacting Affordable Universal Early Care (@ 10:26)
- Subverting Our Own Future? The U.S. Lags Behind (@18:02)
- Closing the Achievement Gap–In Utah: Are We Crazy About Our Kids? (@23:17)
Host a Screening & Change the Conversation
Use Are We Crazy About Our Kids? as a tool to educate, organize and advocate for investing in high-quality early care and preschool—it’s not only good for our kids and it pays for itself several times over! So what is holding us back?
Share Are We Crazy About Our Kids? with your personal and professional networks.
- With staff, students or department heads to develop a shared understanding of how investing in high quality early care and preschool yields huge individual—and public—benefits
- To mobilize existing partners and build new alliances across sectors through community screenings to create common language about the importance of giving all our children a strong start in life
- At conferences, meetings, policy briefings and with media outletsto focus attention on promising early care initiatives at the local, state and national levels
Join The Raising of America Public Engagement Campaign to change the conversation around early child health and development.
Featured in Are We Crazy About Our Kids?
- The HighScope Perry Preschool Studies – Summary and Full Report (PDF)
- The Carolina Abecedarian Project
- The Chicago Child-Parent Centers Studies
- In Quebec – The Early Years Study, “Un Québec fou de ses enfants” (Summary, Working Group Report)
- Granite School District in Utah Summary (PDF) and Full Report (PDF)
- The Achievement Gap (New York Times)
- Tax Incentives Awarded to Corporations by Cities, Counties, States (New York Times report)
- Arthur Rolnick – Minneapolis Fed & ECD, Human Capital Research Initiative & ECD
- Cheryl Polk & the HighScope Educational Research Foundation
- James Heckman & The Heckman Equation
- Robert Dugger & ReadyNation
Many organizations are engaged in high-quality early care and education research and advocacy. They have briefs, charts, videos, backgrounders and other resources you can use to engage your staff, neighbors, co-workers, community-based groups, parents and public officials.
- Investing in Our Future: The Evidence Base on Preschool Education (Foundation for Child Development)
- Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
Policy Publications or Resources by state
- Child Trends Databank
More than 100 indicators that focus on risks and positive developments for children.
- ChildCare Aware
For childcare providers, parents and families
- Children’s Defense Fund
Policy Priorities: Ending Child Poverty
- Early Moments Matter
Toolkit from the Early Head Start National Resource Center
- First Five Years Fund
Infographics, talking points, fact sheets and more.
- The Heckman Equation
Shareable charts, articles, video and other resources
- Why Early Investment Matters – Video
- National Association of Early Child Teacher Educators (NAECTE)
- National Black Child Development Institute
- National Center for Children in Poverty
- National Head Start Association
- National Institute for Early Education Research
Policy Matters Policy Briefs
- National Partnership for Women and Families
- National Women’s Law Center
- The Ounce of Prevention Fund
Makes the business case for investing in early child development
- Strong Start for Children Campaign
- Too Small To Fail
- Voices for America’s Children
- Zero to Three
Building early childhood systems
What They're Saying
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
Makes the vivid and compelling case that investing in policies and programs which support babies, young children and their families benefits us all. Ensuring all children get a good start in life results in a more talented workforce, stronger economy, healthier society and responsible citizenry. This film must be viewed and used as a springboard for action to help all children realize their full potential!Matthew E. 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 of The Miami Herald, president of The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation, and Education and Community Leadership Scholar at the University of Miami School of Education & Human Development
This film powerfully illustrates why business leaders–who might seem unlikely to care about early childhood programs–are committed advocates for investments in early learning. Hundreds of CEO's of major companies, chambers of commerce executives, and small business owners across the country believe that giving children a good beginning is vital to helping kids–and our economy–thrive.Sara Watson, Director, ReadyNation & America's Promise Alliance