Segments in this Video

State of Child Wellbeing (04:04)


Dr. Renee Boynton-Jarrett discusses how the system's fragility fails children. Approximately 40% of children are not ready for kindergarten. In 1970, the U.S. ranked first in high school graduations; that number has fallen to 23rd.

Investing in Long-Term Social Success (02:12)

Pediatrician Boynton-Jarrett sees siblings Aidan and Kara. The work to foster American values of productivity, civic participation, and education should start earlier in life. Toddler vocabulary predicts third grade reading and high school graduation rates.

Early Brain Development (03:07)

Connections between brain cells determine intellectual and social capabilities. Joelie, 4 months, will form trillions of connections by age three. Environmental characteristics, experiences, and interactions between infants and caregivers reinforce development. Learn about the serve and return phenomenon.

Still Face Experiment (03:02)

Edward Tronick explains a study in which babies experience stress while trying to get their parents to respond. Chronic stress activation disrupts learning, memory, and problem solving.

Society is Unresponsive to Family Needs (02:29)

Stressors on parents affect attachment and the ability to engage in serve and return. Productivity gains have been shared less with average Americans. Parents struggle financially as wages stagnate and housing, healthcare, and education costs grow.

Investing in Parents (03:21)

Economists Rob Dugger and Arthur Rolnick advocate improving conditions for families with young children. The U.S. is the only developed nation without paid maternity leave; 40% of mothers return to work when infants are three months old.

Battle for Maternity Leave (02:10)

U.S. parents are guaranteed 12 weeks of unpaid family leave, as opposed to up to two years in other nations. Family advocates began lobbying for legislation in the 1980s. Judith Lichtman and Ellen Bravo recall push-back from the business community.

Short-term Profits over Societal Health (01:40)

Dugger explains how corporate America's decisions negatively impact the lifetime success of U.S. children. The FMLA was vetoed twice due to government intrusion in private business before it passed in 1993. Advocates say it still falls short of goals.

Parental Stress and Child Wellbeing (06:58)

Professor Marilyn Essex studies the biological effects of family stress during early life. Returning to work disrupts maternal behavior. Children later exhibit higher cortisol levels, behavioral problems, and weaker connections between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex—predicting anxiety and decreased academic achievement.

Childcare Challenges (02:05)

Yaminah and David are on a daycare wait list; she works fulltime and he is a student. The U.S. ranks low in childcare availability, affordability, and quality.

Ellis Memorial Child Development Center (02:49)

Families are waitlisted at Boston's nationally accredited preschool. Children with high quality early care are better educated, healthier, more productive, and earn higher pay.

Comprehensive Child Development Act (02:06)

Only one in ten childcare centers is accredited; staff are underpaid. In 1971, Nixon vetoed legislation offering comprehensive childcare, citing government intrusion into individual rights and responsibilities.

Military Childcare Act (02:33)

At Camp Pendleton, Marines pay childcare fees on a sliding scale. Employees receive continuous training and higher pay than the national average. Learn about 1989 legislation designating quality early care for all military branches.

Working Parents in America (03:53)

Parents are struggling to support families, care for children, and be engaged and productive citizens. Most children live in households where all adults work. Americans work more than most developed nations; unreliable schedules are increasing and paid vacation is not legally guaranteed.

Neighborhoods and Child Development (02:04)

Erica, Leroy, and Deniah live in a Boston area suffering divestment, unemployment, and racial segregation. Children of black and Latino parents are more likely to live in an area lacking family support structures—negatively impacting their future.

Born into Poverty (03:35)

In Sanford, Maine, Ashley and her young daughters live on public assistance. She left her abusive husband and was fired after taking maternity leave. The U.S. ranks 34th out of 35 countries in child poverty.

Toxic Stress (03:41)

Low income, low education, and exposure to violence leads to chronic stress that can affect brain development. Ashley's younger daughter struggles with hypersensitivity. Children exposed to adversity can heal, given a structured social environment.

Recommendations for a Smart Society (03:27)

Parents want their children to grow and thrive. The U.S. must address the child development crisis by strengthening families and communities. Investing in early childhood for all families is cost effective and improves society.

Credits: The Raising of America: Signature Hour (02:36)

Credits: The Raising of America: Signature Hour

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The Raising of America: Signature Hour

Part of the Series : The Raising of America
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



The U.S. is the wealthiest, most powerful country in the world. So why has our child well-being fallen to 26th? The series’ Signature Hour interweaves discoveries from neuroscience with the stories of families and communities struggling to provide the nurturing environments all babies and young children need to thrive—while too often hindered by social conditions that put their children on low-developmental paths. It reveals how stresses on parents—for time, money, and resources—can trickle down to their infants and young children, literally altering the wiring of their developing brains with enduring effects. Why are so many children faring so poorly in the richest nation on the planet? How might we do better?

Length: 59 minutes

Item#: BVL165945

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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