The Raising of America will reframe 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.
The Raising of America includes:
The series and official companion website will release in 2014.
More than 200 organizations have already joined the campaign which will kick off with launch events organized in cities across the county to advance the national dialogue on early child health and development.
Scientists are now beginning to understand how who we become is shaped not just by our genes but also by our interactions with the environment; As the Berkeley Media Studies Group puts it, "What surrounds us shapes us." Early experience, beginning in utero, affects how our genes express themselves, shaping the architecture of our developing brains, our metabolism and other regulatory systems—for better and for worse.
What infants and toddlers need to thrive is no mystery: a safe, stable and stimulating environment. But too many of our babies enter life with the playing field already tilted against them. 24% of our children are born into poverty and 69% of those are children of color. They and their families face multiple adversities that threaten to "short circuit" the wiring of their developing brains with potential cumulative, long-term consequences.
Working families face many pressures from long workweeks and commutes, stagnant wages and high costs of quality child care to the fear of losing a job or even a home. Too many parents and caregivers are squeezed by stressful and chaotic conditions. These stressors can 'drip down' on young children and trigger the release of toxic chemicals which can alter brain development and other systems which influence cognitive, socio-emotional and physical health through the life course.
But the new scientific findings also suggest how changing public policies and strengthening communities can better protect and transform life prospects for all our children, especially our most vulnerable, while yielding huge, society-wide payoffs: lower medical and welfare costs, less violence and substance abuse, a better educated and more productive workforce and a narrowed achievement gap.
The Raising of America and its ensemble of multimedia tools will help users break free of the conventional mentalist and family bubble paradigms and better understand why a nurturing child ecology is not only the right of every infant, it's the cornerstone for a healthier, stronger and more equitable future for our nation.
Rather than pre-determine The Raising of America, California Newsreel first conducted an Environmental Scan and Needs Assessment to identify priorities for the content, form and delivery platforms of media that can advance the work of the field.
The scan and needs assessment enabled us to learn who the stakeholders are, their missions and constituencies, the settings in which they work, the media they use, the obstacles they face and how, where and with whom stakeholders might best use the content we are producing.
California Newsreel conceives this new user-centered production paradigm as “reverse engineering content,” that is, reversing the traditional film production sequence from:
Through hundreds of interviews, surveys and scans of key organizations in the field, the assessment yielded:
Use the series to change the conversation about we as a society can - and should - do to make a nurturing child ecology the right of all infants.
(30 min each; working titles)
Major funding for The Raising of America provided by:
Additional funding provided by:
This website was supported in part by Grant Number CE002079 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.