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Too Small to Fail Message on Closing the Word Gap to Appear in Episode of ABC Family’s 'The Fosters'

Hollywood Engagement Strategy Aims to Help Audiences Understand Importance of Talking, Reading and Singing to Children From Birth in Order to Build Vocabulary and Prepare Children for Success

Follow the conversation on Twitter: @2SmalltoFail @TheFostersABCF #closethewordgap #TheFosters 

Too Small to Fail’s campaign to close the word gap will make a guest appearance on an upcoming episode of ABC Family’s hit television series “The Fosters”. Parents watching tonight will hear an important message about talking, reading and singing to their babies and young toddlers in order to help build vocabulary. Episode 4 of the show’s second season, which will air tonight at 9PM Eastern/8PM Central, will feature a scene with lead characters Stef and Lena Adams Foster discussing how parents can be critical to the emotional and cognitive development of young children.

This episode is the result of a meeting held in Hollywood last fall with Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, Too Small to Fail staff, early childhood experts, as well as top television executives, writers and showrunners to discuss how popular entertainment programming can help parents realize their potential as their children’s first teachers. Since then, various television shows have incorporated these messages into their storylines, including Netflix original series “Orange is the New Black.”

“Television can play a powerful role in influencing cultural norms and educating viewers about important social issues," said Patti Miller, director of Too Small to Fail for the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. "Thanks to the enthusiasm and the creativity of the writers and producers of ‘The Fosters’, we have an opportunity to educate parents about how they can boost their babies’ brain and vocabulary development simply by talking, reading and singing to them from the very beginning.”

Research has shown that approximately 80 percent of a child’s brain is formed by age three; the early years from birth through age five are critical to the healthy development of a child. When parents and caregivers spend time every day directly communicating with their young children, they help their children develop important vocabulary and other skills necessary for later learning. Many parents report benefiting from simple prompts and tips that remind them to incorporate regular communication with their babies and toddlers in everyday activities, like bath time or when preparing meals. 

“As the new mother of one-month-old twin boys, I love the way that we’re focusing our story on how parents can help their children learn simply by talking to them from birth,” said Sherri Saum, who plays Lena Adams Foster in the show. “This is such an empowering message for parents to hear, and I am grateful that I work with such a talented and committed group of people who care enough to share this with our audience.”

Winner of 2014’s GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Drama Series and 2013’s Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Breakout Show, “The Fosters” is executive-produced by Jennifer Lopez, (“American Idol,” “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” “The Back-Up Plan”) and created by Bradley Bredeweg and Peter Paige (“Queer As Folk”), who also serve as executive producers and writers, along with Joanna Johnson (“Make It or Break It”). “The Fosters” stars Teri Polo (“Meet the Parents”) as Stef Adams Foster, Sherri Saum (“In Treatment”) as Lena Adams Foster, Jake T. Austin (“Wizards of Waverly Place”) as Jesus Adams Foster, Hayden Byerly (“Parenthood”) as Jude Adams Foster, David Lambert (“Aaron Stone”) as Brandon Adams Foster, Maia Mitchell (“Teen Beach Movie”) as Callie Jacob, Danny Nucci (“Titanic”) as Mike Foster and Cierra Ramirez (“The Secret Life of the American Teenager”) as Mariana Adams Foster. Greg Gugliotta, Elaine Goldsmith Thomas, Benny Medina, and John Ziffren also serve as executive producers.

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About Too Small to Fail

Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation and Next Generation, aims to help parents, communities and businesses take meaningful actions to improve the health and well-being of children ages zero to five, so that more of America’s children are prepared to succeed in the 21st century.  

In 2014, Too Small to Fail is focusing its work on closing the “word gap.” Studies have found that by age four, children in middle and upper income families hear 30 million more words than their low-income peers. This disparity in hearing words from parents and caregivers translates directly into a disparity of learning words. And that puts our children born with the fewest advantages even further behind. Among those born in 2001, only 48 percent of poor children started school ready to learn, compared to 75 percent of children from middle-income families.

The “word gap” is a significant but solvable challenge. Too Small to Fail aims to bring parents, caregivers, other concerned individuals, and the private sector together to take small, research-based actions that can have big impacts.

Learn more at www.toosmall.org and on Twitter @2SmalltoFail.

About The Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation

The Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation convenes businesses, governments, NGOs, and individuals to improve global health and wellness, increase opportunity for women and girls, reduce childhood obesity, create economic opportunity and growth, and help communities address the effects of climate change.  Because of our work, 20,000 American schools are providing kids with healthy food choices in an effort to eradicate childhood obesity; 28,000 farmers in Malawi have improved their incomes by more than 500 percent; 248 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions are being reduced in cities worldwide; more than 5,000 people have been trained in marketable job skills in Colombia; 8.2 million people have access to lifesaving HIV/AIDS medications; $200 million in strategic investments have been made, impacting the health of 75 million people in the U.S.; and members of the Clinton Global Initiative have made nearly 2,800 Commitments to Action to improve more than 430 million lives around the world.

Learn more at www.clintonfoundation.org, and on Twitter @ClintonFdn.

About Next Generation

Next Generation promotes solutions to two of the biggest challenges confronting the next generation of Americans:  The risk of dangerous climate change, and the threat of diminished prospects for children and families. Through the use of non-partisan research, policy development, and strategic communications, we identify strategies that help deploy clean, advanced energy technologies; we also work to ensure a level playing field from which today’s kids can build a brighter future.

Learn more at www.thenextgeneration.org, and on Twitter @nextgen_USA