In a society as affluent as ours, no one has a right to ignore the needs of children

Hi everyone,

As the government shutdown continues, philanthropists are doing what they can. $10 Million Gift to Help Head Start Through Shutdown tells the story of one of these situations. Yet, what if the shutdown drags on? Already, What it’s like to lose Head Start tells us about one little girl that started to cry. She was just starting to get used to going to school, and then the shutdown.

Of all things at risk, how can we possibly think it is okay to mess around with Head Start? The early years are critical for development and to shake up a child’s routine creates needless insecurity. It wastes precious time for advancing their emotional and intellectual development.

I kept thinking about how accepted and commonplace emotionally immature adult behavior in our society seems to be these days. Additionally, it’s not just in the emotional realm as, U.S. adults lag behind counterparts overseas in skills.

It continues to be not well-known enough that it is the very early relational-emotional-well-attuned-consistent-secure experiences that infants have with caregivers that pave the way for healthy emotional development, and this in turn paves the way for intellectual development.

We really need to change that historic dichotomy of cognition on the one hand, emotions on the other hand, and realize that our emotions are the fuel that gives rise to social behavior but also to different levels of intelligence.
– Stanley Greenspan, M.D.

Thinking about these things reminded me of a great book written by Stanley Greenspan and Berry Brazelton, called, “The Irreducible Needs of Children: What Every Child Must Have to Grow, Learn, and Flourish.”  Every child has a right to have his or her needs met and, “In a society as affluent as ours, no one has a right to ignore them.”

Yet most day care is not high quality. The statistics they cite:

  • over 85 percent was not high quality for preschool children
  • over 90 percent was not high quality for infants and toddlers

This is alarming and I don’t think it’s improved since the book came out in 2000. We absolutely need to make day care more accessible, but even that won’t be enough unless we also improve its quality.

We can’t afford to not fully fund programs like Head Start.

To read an excerpt from their book, see: Brazelton & Greenspan: “Could our need to deny vulnerability in ourselves mean that we have to deny seeing it in our children?”

Holding hope for change,

Barbara English
Founder & Executive Director, Living Ubuntu
(949) 891-2005

 [Ubuntu] n. Every human being truly becomes a human by means of relationships with other human beings.


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