Statement of Reality
America is unable to support children and families, particularly in the years before a child enters kindergarten. A tattered network of limited parental leave policy, inconsistent child care regulations, and a patchwork of expensive preschool options has created the current system that squanders children’s potential and puts an undue burden on parents. Subsequently, children and adults are not happy. Parents do not feel adequately supported in their parenthood journey which in turn causes the declining birth rate. American children underperform other students in similarly developed nations in elementary school and beyond. We are committing an injustice to our youth in the short term and hurting our entire nation in the long term. The state of young children is an issue that affects every other social and environmental problem as the solvers of these problems will have been children at the beginning of their life. For better or worse, children grow up to be adults. The role they play in their communities is driven by their childhood.
In an ideal world parents would be supported, children’s development would be respected, and community would be at the heart of how children and families are cared for. All adults would be given the tools to make an informed decision about becoming parents. Those who choose to do so would feel supported and prepared by their community. Families would be given the opportunity to make the best choice for how they care for the child; all options would support the child’s healthy development. Children would grow up to be well rounded adults that have each met their potential.
Theory of Change
In order to achieve this reality social change needs to occur through government policy and in civil society. On the political side of things parental leave policies would need to be put in place similar to those in other developed nations. Comprehensive sex education needs to be a part of high school curriculums, and affordable effective contraceptives need to be accessible for all body types. Additionally, comprehensive parenting and child development should also be required in high school. Teens and adults should be able to make a decision about becoming parents and prepared to do so if they choose to. Without proper education, people only know how to parent in the way they were parented. This creates a great injustice for those who are victims of generational poverty. The current network of high-quality evidence based early childhood education and care programs need to be radically expanded with increased government funding. The vast majority of current childcare programs need to be improved through increased funding and workforce development initiatives. All efforts must work in the interests of children, guardians, and program staff. Failure to do so will create change that is not sustainable in the long term.