By Rachel A. Poulain
Director of Public Engagement & Associate Producer, California Newsreel
The Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of Our Nation is a five-part documentary series that explores how a strong start for all our kids leads to a healthier, stronger and more equitable nation.
Watch the trailer!
Growing scientific evidence reveals how experiences in the first years of life build the foundation for life-long physical, socioemotional and cognitive health and development – for better or for worse.
Many people and policymakers tend to blame or credit parents for their children's outcomes. But parents and caregivers are enmeshed in a broader "social ecology," or web of relations, that enhance or constrain what they can provide. The Wisconsin Study of Families and Work, for instance, illustrates how growing stressors on young families – for time, money and resources – can literally get under the skin of their offspring with adverse consequences for developmental trajectories.
But the science also suggests investments in maternal health, early child development and family-work policy that can enable all our babies the opportunity for a strong start. These are critical not only to better individual outcomes, but to building a healthier, safer, better educated, more equitable and more prosperous nation.
While the studies are many, are strong and are persuasive, little or no popular media have translated these scientific findings into a compelling new narrative capable of changing the way parents, practitioners, policy makers and the public think about society's responsibilities and interest in these first crucial years. This is what The Raising of America sets out to do.
The Raising of America Project welcomes providers, civic groups, professional associations, advocacy groups and faith and community-based organizations to use the series and its companion tools as part of a national public engagement campaign to change the conversation about what we as a society can – and should – do to support families with young children.
More than 350 organizations (including AMCHP) have already signed up as partners to convene community dialogues, conference screenings, policy forums, town hall meetings and trainings using the series to educate, organize and advocate for a comprehensive early child development agenda and to advance their work from the local to the national levels.
Sign up today!
In addition, organizations across the country are planning Launch Events to sneak preview the signature episode prior to the PBS broadcast. The Launch Events will bring together diverse sectors of the community to explore how growing inequality is affecting their youngest children – and explore what can be done to give all babies the opportunity for a strong start.
How can you use the series?
The Raising of America is being produced by California Newsreel with Vital Pictures, producers of the acclaimed series UNNATURAL CAUSES: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? and RACE—The Power of an Illusion. To see the California Newsreel video collection, visit newsreel.org.
Major funding for The Raising of America has been provided by The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The California Endowment and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Learn more about the series, the engagement campaign and subscribe to the newsletter (which will soon announce the pre-release of three of the supporting episodes): raisingofamerica.org.