November 6, 2014

Let’s Grow Kids – The Raising of America

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:41 am by Lund

Let’s Grow Kids, a statewide advocacy organization promoting the importance of quality early childhood education, held 16  events around the state last month to promote an upcoming PBS documentary series, “The Raising of America.”  Each of the events featured a presentation from a local pediatrician about brain development during the early years and a 30 minute sneak peek of the documentary followed by a panel of local speakers taking questions from the audience on all aspects of early childhood education.

Raising of America

Click on this picture to watch the trailer for “The Raising of America”

The series, which will be shown in Spring 2015, focuses on why children in the United States have worse outcomes on most measures of health, education and well-being than other rich nations and what can be done to stop the most vulnerable children falling further and further behind.  Following the stories of various families as they struggle to find and afford quality child care for their children and delving into the brain science that proves the need for such, the series promises a well rounded and in depth exploration of what is widely being called a “crisis” by experts in the field.  The situation is presented as a logical one.  In order to ensure a vibrant and successful future for our nation, we must invest in the children who will be the citizens of that nation.  The project description on  raisingofamerica.org states, “It doesn’t have to be this way. When we invest in strengthening communities, families and young children today, the next generation will pay it back through productive and responsible citizenship tomorrow.” (raisingofamerica.org, retrieved 11/6/14)

Currently in Vermont, 40-50% of children arrive at Kindergarten unprepared.  Examples of kindergarten preparedness:

  • knowing the alphabet and the sounds of the letters,
  • writing their names
  • recognizing colors
  • counting objects and counting forward and backward,
  • identifying numbers, and identifying numbers before and after a given number
  • Separating easily from parents
  • Engaging and playing well with other children
  • Paying attention and following instructions
  • Practical self care skills such as putting on their own boots, zipping their jackets, blowing their nose

Quality early childhood programs provide the skills and resources that will help them to become proficient in the above and more and stimulate the early brain development that will set them up to be successful in Kindergarten.  But in Vermont, as across the country, there are very few openings at high quality early childhood programs.  For 5 STAR programs, such as Lund’s Early Childhood Education Program, the vacancy rate in Chittenden County is less than 1%.  72% of parents looking for childcare for their under 3 year olds report that their search was difficult.  (http://www.childcareresource.org/community-statistics, retrieved 11/6/14) One family featured in the Raising of America preview were pinning their hopes on one high quality center for their 4 month old and when asked what their back up plan was, all they could do was shrug their shoulders and look hopeless.  They are number 40 on the wait list.

Children are being failed.  Families are being failed.  Ultimately the future of the nation is being failed by this lack of high quality early childhood education programs.  It is not over dramatization to state that this is a crisis.  That’s why the work of Let’s Grow Kids is so important in educating people and empowering them to take action to improve the situation for Vermont’s children.  You can find more information about Let’s Grow Kids at their website letsgrowkids.org and you can also sign a pledge to support their work.

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