A documentary, entitled “Are We Crazy About Our Kids“, is raising the alarm for America to fundamentally re-shape early childhood development as a public policy imperative. In its press release on its film, California Newsreel, states:
Science has demonstrated that a child’s experiences during the earliest years are vital to building the foundation for lifelong individual 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 in this 30-minute documentary conclude that high-quality early care and preschool are among the best investments the nation can make, yielding huge individual – and societal – benefits. Participants in Perry Preschool, Abcederian and the Chicago Child-Parent Centers were more likely to graduate high school and college, get better jobs and contribute more in taxes. They were less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, be unemployed, go to jail or incur other social costs. Are We Crazy About Our Kids? also travels to Quebec which rolled out a novel jobs and antipoverty program: they introduced universal early care and preschool for all children from birth to age five at a cost of $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 across the nation. Back here in the U.S., childcare remains largely haphazard, unregulated, and unaffordable for most. Many states have cut back funding even as they doled out $80 billion in business tax breaks in 2012 to lure each other’s companies, according to a New York Times report. Former Fed economist Arthur Rolnick points out, “That’s a zero sum game. Nationally not one net new job is created.”
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