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Mighty Blog, Voice for Kids Blog

Early childhood in America

Gigi Chawla, MD

As a pediatrician for 15 years and a mother of two kids, I’ve spent unimaginable amounts of time thinking about children. It’s my job to think about their health, well-being and development, but also the opportunities to improve upon each of these.

Did you know that among other developed nations, the U.S. ranks:

  • 26th in infant mortality with 6.5 deaths out of every 1,000 births
  • 34th in child poverty with 24 percent of children growing up in poverty
  • 26th in preschool enrollment with 74 percent of children attending preschool
  • 23rd in high school graduation with a graduation rate of 79 percent

These numbers and statistics are real kids. We need to focus on what we can do to improve the lives of our patients and all children. As a nation, we need to pull together and ask ourselves why so many children are faring so poorly and what we can do to improve the outlook for these children and families.

Early childhood in America
Ellis Memorial Early Education Center is one of Boston’s best and most affordable featured in “The Raising of America.” (Photos courtesy of raisingofamerica.org.

In partnership with Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges’ Cradle to K Cabinet, and MinneMinds, Children’s Minnesota is exploring ways in which we can work collaboratively to address some of these challenges and improve the well-being of children in Minnesota. On Nov. 9, we gathered a group of policy makers, community leaders, and experts in the field of early childhood to watch and discuss a documentary titled The Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of our Nation.

This documentary is airing across the country this fall-winter in an effort to spark a national discussion by exploring the history of U.S. policies that impact children’s earliest years, highlighting recent scientific research about early child development, and sharing the stories of families across the country. On Sunday, it will air on Twin Cities Public Television at 10:30 p.m. and three other times throughout December.

As a pediatrician, it is my commitment to not only care for children when they are sick, but to also support ways to keep them healthy. That includes engaging in discussions around child and family policy and encouraging others to do so as well. Watching this documentary is a great place to start. You can read more about The Raising of America project and join the conversation happening all across the country. Together, we can work toward building a future that supports the well-being of all American children and families.

Gigi Chawla, MD, is senior medical director of primary care at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

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