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Are We Crazy About Our Kids?

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Science shows that a child’s experiences during the early years are vital to building the foundation for future 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 investing too little where it matters most.

Are We Crazy About Our Kids? brings to life the classic studies of Perry Preschool, Abcedarian 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 personal and social benefits—and pay for themselves many times over.

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. In California, cemeteries are inspected more often than child care centers, while the cost of center-based childcare often runs more than $10,000 a year.

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 are just one part of the solution. But economists are clear about the equation: our system is paying for failure rather than investing for success.

The question is, What will we do about it? How crazy are we about our kids?

Studies and Websites


Camil Bouchard

Community Psychologist, Québec, Canada

Lyse Brunet

Avenir d’enfants

Alexi Chartrand

Father of Vladimir; Freelance media producer

Janis Dubno

Senior Policy Analyst, Voices for Utah Children

Robert Dugger

Economist and Investment Banker; Co-Founder, ReadyNation

Linda Hart

Teacher, Granite School District

James Heckman

Nobel Laureate, Economics, University of Chicago

Yolande James

Québec Minister of Families, 2010-2012

Christa Japel

Université du Québec à Montréal

Senator Wayne Niederhauser

Utah State Senate District 9

Senator Aaron Osmond

Utah State Senate District 10

Cheryl Polk

President, HighScope Educational Research Foundation

Arthur Rolnick

Former Senior Vice President, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

Brenda Van Gorder

Director of Preschool Services, Granite School District

Jason, Rey, Diego and Maria

5th grade students, Granite School District




James Rutenbeck

Executive Producers

Larry Adelman and Christine Herbes-Sommers

Supervising Producer

Wendy Riseborough

Associate Producers

Franziska Blome and Elizabeth Shea


P. Andrew Willis


Llewellyn Smith

Archival Researcher

Heather Merrill

Directors of Photography

Bruce Aoki, Richard Chisolm, Tom Fahey, Mark Falstad, Dakin Henderson and Bill Kerrigan


Dwayne Dell, Heidi Hesse, Mike Lee and Antoine Masson-MacLean

Production Coordinator, Montreal

Heidi Miller


Bill Politis


Maria Fierro


Leslie Strain


Brian Duffy, Doug Quade, Ace Salisbury

Sound Mix

Damon Addleman at MODULUS


Dakin Henderson

Series Associate Producer and Director of Public Engagement

Rachel Poulain

Series Creator and Executive Producer

Larry Adelman



  • AP Images
  • Arthur Reynolds and the Chicago Longitudinal Study
  • Chàtelaine, Novembre 1992
  • China-in-a-Box
  • Corbis
  • Framepool
  • Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute
  • “The Gazette” a division of Postmedia Network Inc.
  • Getty Images
  • HighScope Educational Research Foundation – Perry Preschool Study
  • Journeyman Pictures
  • L’actualité / Rogers Publishing Limited
  • Lyse Brunet, Executive Director, Avenir d’enfants
  • Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
  • Radio-Canada Archives


With special thanks to the children, families, teachers and staff of:

  • New Horizon Academy, St. Paul, MN
  • YWCA of Minneapolis, MN
  • Ellis Memorial, Boston, MA
  • Graffiti CPE, Montréal, QC
  • Woodrow Wilson School, Salt Lake City, UT

Special Thanks

  • Susan Bales
  • Jessie Bencosme
  • Bill Bentley
  • Jane Bertrand
  • Stephen Bezruchka
  • Jeanne Brooks-Gunn
  • Camil Bouchard
  • Tom Boyce
  • Lyse Brunet
  • Melvin Carter, III
  • Brendan Carroll
  • Claude Chagnon
  • Chagnon Foundation
  • Debbie Chang
  • Alexis Chartrand
  • Jean Cheng
  • Jean-Marc Chouinard
  • Steve Clermont
  • Janice Cooper
  • James Comer
  • Stacy Cunningham
  • Lawrence Daressa
  • Leo Delaney
  • Lori Dorfman
  • Mario Drummonds
  • Janis Dubno
  • Robert Dugger
  • Helen Epstein
  • Brent Ewig
  • Frank Farrow
  • Margarita Figueroa
  • Amy Fine
  • Cathy Fischer
  • Pierre Fortin
  • Michael Fraser
  • Marc Friedman
  • Alexis Gagné
  • Brenda Van Gorder
  • Jean Serge Grisé
  • Lila Guirguis
  • Steve Guy
  • Cheryl Gray
  • Neal Halfon
  • James Heckman
  • Charlotte von Hemert
  • Clyde Hertzman
  • Yolande James
  • Isabelle Jameson
  • Christa Japel
  • Kathy Johanson
  • Caitlin Johnson
  • Mary Kaeding
  • Michael Kiernan
  • Nancy Krieger
  • Leigh Lanocha
  • David Lawrence
  • Aviva Lipkowitz
  • Carmela Lomonaco
  • Isabelle Longtin
  • Bert Lubin
  • Maureen Marovitch
  • Maxfield Elementary School
  • Kerry McCuaig
  • Gwen McKinney
  • Matthew Melmed
  • Lisa Cylar Miller
  • Meredith Minkler
  • Cornelius Moore
  • Alex Morales
  • Nina Sazer O’Donnell
  • Aaron Osmond
  • Kris Perry
  • Michael Petit
  • Shannon K’doah Range
  • John Rich
  • Any Robillard
  • Arthur Rolnick
  • Alisha Saville
  • Joanna Shoffner Scott
  • Ann Segal
  • Louis Senecal
  • Jack Shonkoff
  • Linda Smith
  • Gypsy Snider
  • Esta Soler
  • Nancy Stachell
  • Nora Tarr
  • Maria Teixeira
  • Joe Theissen
  • Kelly Thomson
  • Richard Tremblay
  • UMass Club
  • Jane Waldfogel
  • The Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children


Discussion Guide (PDF) Transcript (PDF) Full Synopsis (PDF)