At this month’s American Public Television Station summit, general managers and volunteers from Public Broadcasting Stations (PBS) across the country gathered to advocate for the benefits free educational programming delivers to millions of children and families every day.
Public television's role in ensuring families can access high-quality help in promoting their children's early literacy and healthy social and emotional development made PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) among the GLR Campaign's first National Partners.
In addition, the Campaign honored PBS and CPB in 2015 as Pacesetter Partners.
And, as the Campaign accelerates work to help communities build 24/7/365 systems of service and care for low-income families whose kids are falling beyond the reach of schools, public television is emerging as even a more crucial ally.
The summit marked the one-year anniversary of the launch of PBS-Kids 24/7, which has made the award winning children’s channel available to more than 95 percent of U.S. households with a television. Data compiled by PBS since the launch says time spent viewing PBS stations is up 85 percent among low-income families and 65 percent among broadcast-only homes.
Said PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger "It was two years ago at this very summit that we announced we were going to launch a 24/7 children's channel. And as you hear tonight, PBS Kids 24/7 has deepened engagement across both broadcast and digital platforms, in turn extending the impact of our work and making a real difference in the lives of millions of families."
"We will continue to serve children with educational content that expands their horizons and prepares them for success in school and life ... it is that relentless commitment to our educational mission that has helped us earn the public's high level of trust year after year."
Added Leslie Rotenberg, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Children's Media and Education at PBS, “These kids were watching a lot of tv during those hours but they didn't have a safe and educational option. Now, thanks to your stations, all of that has changed. At the same time, you continue to reach more children in low-income homes than any other children's network on your primary channel.”
Public media is part of a seamless system of care and services needed for low-income children and their families, many of whom have fallen beyond the reach of schools due to lack of school readiness, chronic absence and summer learning loss, said Ralph Smith, managing director of the GLR Campaign, at the summit.
“What you have done with PBS Kids is to take us a big step down the road,” Smith said. “We can imagine that those kids during their early years will have access to highly quality programming. We can imagine that that kid who is staying home due to asthma due to mold in the home or school can have access to high quality programming and we can imagine that kid for whom there is summer plan can have access to high quality programming. that is the contribution you are making as public television stations to kids not only in one community but to kids in all communities.”
In his remarks, Smith also invoked the memory of Fred Rogers, whose groundbreaking show Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, turned 50 this month.
“Fred Rogers reminded us about the power of imagination And when I think of Fred Rogers, believe it or not, I think of 9-11 and the Commission's Report -- that greater than the failure of tactics, planning, management, or intelligence was the failure of imagination," Smith said.
"So much of the work we do is confronting the problems that occur because of the failures of imagination. I want to believe that, in the spirit of Fred Rodgers, that were this room to convene 49 years from now we can say PBS Kids 24/7 helped us imagine we could do better for these kids who were falling off the edge and beyond the reach of schools. Imagine that it helped us believe it and to act on it. Because what crystalizes the moral imperative to act is the knowledge and belief that acting will make a difference.”
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