The Need

The Need 2019-03-26T18:06:44-07:00

All Children Deserve A Good Start

Early parental support is essential to giving children a strong foundation for life. Research shows that by the age of three, the brain is almost fully formed and the emotional, behavioral, cognitive and social foundation for the rest of a person’s life has been laid.

But in America today, new parents and families are increasingly pressed for time, money and resources. Their anxiety and worry make it hard for them to adequately meet their children’s changing emotional needs. Parents’ stress can be felt by children, and that stress can negatively impact the wiring of a child’s developing brain. We’ve got to do something differently if all our children are to thrive.

We’re falling behind as a nation

The numbers speak for themselves. Looking at UNICEF’s ranking of the United States against the world’s 29 richest nations:

  • The U.S. ranks 26th in terms of our children’s well-being.
  • We are the only country that fails to provide guaranteed paid family leave at the birth of a child.
  • Our childcare ranks 16th in affordability and 22nd in quality.
  • In 1970, the U.S. was ranked #1 in high school and college graduation rates. Today, we rank 15th in college and 21st in high school graduation rates.

Many risk factors affect our children’s well-being

The key factors putting a child at risk of poor health and development include poverty, single parenting, teen parenting, low-level parental education, parental substance abuse, parental mental health issues, and negative parenting practices and abuse.

Based on current statistics, we have some significant challenges to overcome to ensure that all children get an equal chance at becoming successful adults:

  • 1 in 4 children ages 0 to 5 years old are living in poverty in the U.S.
  • A child living in poverty is 13 times less likely to graduate high school.
  • 1 in 6 women report prolonged depression during or after their pregnancy. Rates among Latina and African-American moms are even higher.
  • 1 in 11 pregnant women experience partner violence, and more than 1 in 6 African-American moms do.
  • In 2013, 67 percent of Oregon’s fourth grade public school students were unable to read at grade level and 60 percent were unable to compute at grade level.
  • A child who can’t read at grade level by the third grade is 4 times less likely to graduate high school.
  • Only 62 percent of babies and toddlers—and even fewer Latino children (54 percent) are read to daily.

Children cannot advocate for themselves, and consequently their needs are often not addressed in public policy.

But it’s not only our children who are at risk. Our current policies are under-developing America and our future. If we want our children to do better in school and in life, we can’t wait until they enter kindergarten. We need to act now.

“Hours in infancy have more power to shape us than months in middle age.”
– Dr. Bruce Perry, Child Trauma Academy, Houston, Texas

“We often hear ‘Children are resilient,’ or ‘They’ll get over it.’ … Adults … frequently misunderstand the child’s unattached, non-reactive behaviors as ‘not being affected’ rather than the ‘surrender’ response. This pervasive destructive view … exacerbates the potential negative impact of trauma. Of course, children ‘get over it’ – they have no choice. Children are not resilient, children are malleable. In the process of ‘getting over it,’ elements of their true emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and social potential are diminished – some percentage of capacity is lost, a piece of the child is lost forever.”
– Dr. Bruce Perry, Child Trauma Academy, Houston, Texas