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Right From the Start: What Should We Do to Help Our Youngest Children Thrive? (NIF Issue Guide)

One of the National Issues Forums Institute’s issue guides, Right From the Start: What Should We Do to Help Our Youngest Children Thrive? outlines this public issue and several choices or approaches to addressing the issue. National Issues Forums do not advocate a specific solution or point of view, but provide citizens the opportunity to consider a broad range of choices, weigh the pros and cons of those options, and meet with each other in a public dialogue to identify the concerns they hold in common.

This issue guide was designed for people who are concerned about the development of our youngest children, as well as its ripple effects on our communities and nation. The guide focuses on the first four years, before most children begin their formal education. We’ll examine what can and should be done to help them grow during this critical time and start school to learn.

The guide presents three options for consideration:

Option 1: Share the responsibility for early child development
From this perspective, we all have a stake in–and responsibility for–how children develop during their earliest years. The rapid growth of body and mind during this period sets the stage for later success in school and adult life. We must, as individuals and as a society, invest the time and resources necessary for high-quality early care and education in order to protect our collective future.

Option 2: Uphold the rights and responsibilities of families
From this perspective, parents are the first and most important caregivers in their children’s lives. Nothing affects early development more than the bond between parent and child. We must respect the role of parents to raise their children in accordance with their values and beliefs and encourage the kind of natural support provided by their personal networks of other parents, relatives and friends.

Option 3: Ensure equal opportunity so all children thrive
From this perspective, reducing inequality is essential to helping young children develop their full potential. Social, economic, and racial disparities undermine healthy development and cause many children to enter school unprepared to learn. While remedial programs help, the best way to help all young children succeed is to ensure equal opportunity for their families in education, jobs, housing and public life.

More about NIF issue guides…

NIFI’s issue guides introduce participants to several choices or approaches to consider. Rather than conforming to any single public proposal, each choice reflects widely held concerns and principles. Panels of experts review manuscripts to make sure the choices are presented accurately and fairly. By intention, issue guides do not identify individuals or organizations with partisan labels, such as Democratic, Republican, conservative, or liberal. The goal is to present ideas in a fresh way that encourages readers to judge them on their merit.

NIFI offers various materials for each of the issues it produces issue guides on. The moderator guide or “guide to the forums” for each issue is available as a free download. Discussion guides (or “issue guides”) for participants are generally available in print or PDF download for a small fee ($2 to $4). DVD’s can also be purchased for some issues for just $6, for use at the beginning of your forums to introduce the topic and approaches.

All NIF issue guides and associated tools can be accessed at www.nifi.org/issue_books/.

Resource Link: www.nifi.org/issue_books/detail.aspx?catID=12&itemID=22792

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