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01/11/2020 11:00 PM

Branford's BECC Offers 'The Raising of America' Free Screening, Community Conversation Jan. 21

Branford Early Childhood Collaborative presents “The Raising of America” a free screening and community conversation, Tues. Jan. 21, 6 – 8 p.m. at Branford Community House, 46 Church St.Image from

Faced with stressors including long work hours, stagnant wages, the need for affordable housing and high quality daycare -- are circumstances beyond parents' control hampering their efforts to give their kids a safe, stable, nurturing environment -- and possibly altering their child's path toward success in school and life? And is current public policy working to support the needs of these families?

A new documentary series "The Raising of America" examines the issues, and the science, of how these stressors can neurologically impact children and their future success as students and adults; and hopes to inspire needed policy change. On Tuesday, Jan. 21, Branford Early Childhood Collaborative (BECC) encourages parents, caregivers and those who work with families to come out for a free screening of episode one, "The Signature Hour," followed by a community conversation, at Branford Community House, 46 Church St.

In addition to parents and caregivers, BECC also invites teachers, social workers, police and fire police and fire public health professionals to attend the screening and the community conversation that will follow, facilitated by BECC.  The screening is made possible with support from Branford Families and a grant from The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.

Founded 19 years ago as a grassroots group, BECC is a non-profit with the mission of "...ensuring that all Branford children and families are afforded the opportunity to develop a sound foundation for learning in the critical early years," according to its website

"Our goal at BECC is always to combine the newest research with a sort of compassionate story of what it looks like in our community," said BECC Executive Director Robin Comey.  "This movie interweaves stories of parents and combines it with the neuroscience, and it really [goes to] some of our policies that we have in place. We need to provide an infrastructure that promotes care, or promotes living wages for instance; even among our preschool and daycare workers."

Comey is also a current Branford State Representative (D, District 102).

The Raising of America documentary series was produced by California Newsreel, on the heels of its' critically acclaimed PBS series "Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?'"  The Branford screening of "The Signature Hour" shares an episode which looks at how conditions impacting children and families during infancy and early years can alter a child's developing brain, and what can be done to address the issues causing those negative impacts. Learn more at

Comey said the "growing squeeze" on parents to provide for their families while also nurturing and supporting their child's development impacts a wide swath – including both middle income and low income families -- like those living in Branford.

"I think what's happening is that middle income parents are drowning in a sea of long work hours, they're commuting long distances, the wages have not gone up, they have rising housing costs and all kinds of other costs," Comey said.  "And if you look at low income parents, they don't have reliable 9 -to- 5 jobs, they're juggling bills to choose between [priorities]. Certainly, the stressors are huge, and it becomes this contagion for kids."

She said the documentary also "...lays out that blaming parents can be the easy way out, in some forms; and that we don't all live in a bubble. We are all part of this community."

Comey said policy changes can help. From child labor laws to the eight-hour work day, Civil Rights, the women's movement and beyond, "...the U.S. has a really long history of social movements of improving conditions for families with young children," she said. "We do have the power to change."

BECC presents "The Raising of America" a free screening and community conversation, Tues. Jan. 21, 6 – 8 p.m. at Branford Community House, 46 Church St.  Free limited seating, please RSVP to (203) 415-5232 or email