“Nearly ½ of infants and toddlers start life at a disadvantage and do not have the supports necessary to grow and thrive.” -- The Carnegie Corporation
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Overview: Welcome back to the blog! In this post, I will be summarizing key points from “The Quiet Crisis,” a report revealing this crisis, addressing the importance of early life, and introducing four areas of action that need to be taken.
Note: This report was published in 1994, meaning that some of the statistics changed since it was published. However, the changes in statistics reveal that the crisis is getting worse with time, making this report more relevant than ever. Also, this resource is one of many I analyzed during my coursework at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD).
CLICK HERE to access the full report
Aaaand. . . we’re back to the research content. I hope you all enjoyed the short break. :)
Before I dive into this report, I want to preface by saying this topic was recommended in the survey I sent out a few weeks ago. I’m thrilled that you chose this topic because it is a great introduction to many topics I plan on discussing later on AND it is both a societal issue and hidden crisis.
If you would like to continue to give me input on my future content, leave a comment below or fill out a short survey.
The Quiet Crisis
For decades, children under the age of three and their families have been a target of what the Carnegie Corporation calls “the Quiet Crisis.” This crisis is characterized by inadequate child care and the high cost of children’s health care. More simply put, this crisis is the result of communities not properly supporting a healthy start for young children.
Education has rarely been at the top of policy makers’ priority lists, and problems within the education system, let alone with early care, are rarely reported by news stations. So, infants’ and toddlers’ health and overall needs have been swept under the rug despite the fact that the first three years of life are the most important in establishing healthy development.
Besides minimal policy change, what is the cause of the Quiet Crisis?
The Quiet Crisis was probably caused by changing values and growing economic pressures on families.
In other words, changing family values and demographics -- such as the increase in working mothers and single-parent families -- have presented today’s families with more economic pressure than in the past. This pressure shifts the focus away from high-quality early care.
What are the risk factors for inadequate early care?
These risk factors are multiplicative, not additive in their effects on development, meaning these risk factors pose incredibly dangerous risks to a child's health, development, and success.
The Importance of Early Life
Note: This section introduces key findings that I will be discussing in later posts.
As stated earlier, the first three years of life are critical for healthy development. Here’s why:
To summarize, there is new evidence that supports the link between high-quality early care and healthy development.
So, what can I do to ensure my child reaches healthy development?
Besides providing them with high-quality prenatal and early health care, relationships are key to healthy development. A child needs to have only a few close, caring, and supportive relationships to be on the right track to healthy development. When a young child has close relationships with adults, their growing brain is supported and healthy, so take steps to strengthen your relationships with your young children, to mirror good behavior, and to support language development.
Although I would love to go into greater depth on individual solutions to this crisis, this report focuses on societal solutions, which I will address in the next section.
Four Areas of Action
Now the question remains, “What can we do to solve this crisis?”
As the saying goes . . . it takes a community to raise a child. So, to solve the Quiet Crisis, four areas of action need to be taken in communities and society. We need to. . .
To learn more about these solutions, go to page 38 on the report.
To find out ways you can make change, visit the "Call to Action" page.
Early care is a national investment. That's why we need to work together to make policy makers and legislators aware of the importance of early life and the crisis at hand.
To conclude this post, I'll list a few statistics and other important information from this report
Characteristics of a competent three-year-old
Statistics (may have changed since 1994)
I hope this information was helpful and informative. It is crucial that we educate ourselves on this hidden yet widespread crisis to prevent future ignorance and to support our future generations.
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7/7/2020 12:13:25 pm
Well done. It is so true that we need more funding and other support for our young children and families so they can become the best adults they can be.
7/7/2020 02:18:19 pm
Public investment in many areas of education has declined. Investment in quality early childhood education and child care has been demonstrated to have about the highest payoff of any possible investment. I encourage you to check out Arthur Rolnick’s research and writing on the financial payoff to society of investment in early childhood education.
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Meghan Hesterman (she/her) is a child advocate and education blogger. While a student at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), she created Journal of a Future Teacher to share her journey in becoming an early childhood teacher.