How can we get people to not only see the value of high-quality early education, but understand we’re all harmed when access is limited and take action so all children can take advantage?
At The Family Conservancy, like countless other organizations we work alongside, we have struggled with this challenge. It’s one thing to gain understanding and agreement on an issue, it’s a whole different matter to implement the radical changes that are needed.
We’ve seen the results of annual polls from the First Five Years Fund that show a significant majority of voters in the United States (80 percent) say, “making sure that our children get a strong start in life through quality early childhood education is extremely or very important to them personally.” However, even with a significant majority in agreement, we have trouble generating the serious momentum needed to ensure that all children have access to high-quality early education.
So, when an email arrived from Child Care Aware® of America (CCAOA) touting a new documentary called “No Small Matter,” we knew this was a message we wanted to broadcast. After previewing the film, we were convinced that it could be a powerful tool to support our work to improve access to high-quality early education.
What immediately struck us about the film was its ability to convey the complexities of the issues in an entertaining and understanding way. The film breaks down complicated scientific details into layman’s terms — addressing prevailing ideas that hinder our thinking about children’s behavior, to help us see what children need more clearly. And it paints a clear picture of how today’s society no longer affords one parent to stay home with a child, and how the system has not caught up with this reality.
Our team began organizing a free community screening. Sponsorships were secured to cover the screening fee, venue rental, and travel expenses for our national panelist, Dr. Renée Boynton-Jarrett.
We knew we wanted the event to heighten the conversations specific to early education in the Kansas City community. Local and national partners from various sectors — government officials, nonprofits, business leaders and researchers — were recruited to participate in a panel discussion that would follow “No Small Matter.”
|The Family Conservancy vice president of programs, Paula Neth, answers questions from the audience during a panel discussion on the importance of early education on March 7, 2019.|
With more than 150 in attendance, as the film screened, there were several scenes that drew loud applause, but none greater than when the film addressed the problems early education can solve and the common misconceptions about child care. Those long aware of the importance of quality child care reported this film explained the issue of access better than they had seen in the past, and many asked when the next screening would be, or if they can show the film to their circles.
As the panel discussion came to a close, the room was buzzing with energy. As the guests left, we collected commitment cards so we could maintain contact and offer advocacy support. Our hope was that people would contact their elected representatives and share information with family and friends. Shortly after the event, we followed up with the guests via email directing people to Child Care Works’ advocacy tools.
With decades of experience supporting the early education and child care field, we are intimately aware of the challenges and opportunities facing our youngest students. But, it’s a complex discussion that’s full of big questions without easy answers.
Bring "No Small Matter" to Your Community
We found “No Small Matter” to be a powerful tool that can generate enthusiasm around early education issues. We believe you’ll find the same to be true.
Visit www.nosmallmatter.com to find out how you can bring the film to your community. Members of CCAOA are eligible to receive a discount on screening the film. For more information on this discount, please reach out to CCAOA’s senior director of partner success, Brenda Zedlitz at Brenda.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scott Hanson is the marketing and communications coordinator for The Family Conservancy. Scott lives in Kansas City, MO with his wife and son. As a new father, Scott is gaining an intimate understanding of challenges young parents face, and the importance role advocacy can play in creating positive change.