A new approach & new point of view
There are numerous studies from economic, educational, health, and policy experts demonstrating that investments focusing on prevention, particularly during childhood, have the highest effectiveness and return on investment of any public policy strategy. These arguments, however, spanning several decades, have failed to garner broad support. Back to the Start aims to change this by providing narratives that have been missing in these campaigns. Our storytellers are uniquely qualified and compelling spokespersons due to their lived experience.
This is because prisons in America represent the most distilled embodiment of our failed policies, which have across a lifetime disproportionately harmed individuals from poor and minority communities. These are the communities that are most impacted by incarceration because they are entrenched with the same structural barriers and inequities, including poverty and systemic racism, that are at the root of the cradle-to-prison pipeline.
The fact that the storytellers are behind bars in prison helps to put things into perspective for the audience. The context connects the dots on the tragic and often preventable downstream consequences of our policy and system failures which lack adequate investments in disadvantaged children and families. The stories shift the focus to systems failures rather than blaming the individual (child). It illustrates the irony that although we as a society are unwilling to prioritize investments in upstream evidence- based childhood interventions, we remain complacent with massive expenditures on remediation and mass incarceration.
Giving a voice to the voiceless.
Our storytellers are filling the void of absent narratives in this space. While the most impactful stories are first-hand narratives, firsthand accounts are generally lacking in movements advocating for early childhood interventions since, as a practical matter, young children do not have the agency to speak up and publicly share their stories.
A new narrative.
In addition to constructing a new narrative about the personal and societal costs of inadequate investments in upstream early childhood interventions, Back to the Start is also simultaneously changing the narrative about the incarcerated population by providing a window into who they are now on a human level as well as the circumstances under which they entered into the criminal justice system.