After 12 years of guardian ad-Litem work I am convinced that early childhood programs make a great difference in the lives of at risk children. Children receiving the help they need to make it in school more often go on to graduate and on to become contributing members of our communities.

To not support children that are unable to read or function well in the classroom is to insure continued failing schools and more and bigger prisons.

America is already the largest criminal nation in the world in per capita and in gross prison numbers – and that is expensive in financial and quality of life measurements.

The following This PEW issue brief goes on to explain in detail why we should continue early childhood programs in tough economic times.

Use this information to help your local programs keep their funding in these hard times. Cutting Early Childhood Programs Worsens Fiscal Problems http://www.pewtrusts.org/news_room_detail.aspx?id=56880

Contact: Rolanda B. Rascoe, 202.540.6413Washington, DC – 01/19/2010 – States can save money and stimulate their economies, in the short and long run, by protecting funding for effective pre-kindergarten and home visiting programs, according to a new issue brief by the Partnership for America’s Economic Success. “The Costs of Disinvestment”

http://www.pewtrusts.org/uploadedFiles/wwwpewtrustsorg/Reports/Partnership_for_Americas_Economic_Success/Cost_of_Disinvestment_brief_final.pdf?n=1454

provides evidence for why states cannot afford to cut early childhood programs whose demonstrated economic and societal benefits reduce taxpayer costs now and generate more revenue in the future. Rigorous science and hard data show that these investments are fundamental to achieving a globally competitive workforce and fiscal sustainability for states and the nation.

“Reducing budgets for proven early childhood policies means health, education and social services costs will rise,” said Sara Watson, the Partnership’s director and senior officer at the Pew Center on The States. “The fiscally wise choice is to maintain quality home visiting and pre-k investments. These policies are steps toward short-term savings for states and produce high rates of return on each public dollar by stimulating consumer and business spending.”

The brief highlights how public funding for evidence-based home visiting and early learning benefits taxpayers as soon as a year after children and families have received services. Voluntary home visiting programs serving pregnant women can help decrease by half the incidence of low-birthweight births, each of which adds between $28,000 and $40,000 in costs. Pre-k programs can quickly reduce the number of children with developmental delays or held back in the early grades. A study of New Jersey’s Abbott Preschool Program found 30 percent less grade retention in first grade among children who attended one year and up to 50 percent less for those who attended at both ages 3 and 4; each child held back costs the state $16,000 per year.

The brief also provides evidence that early childhood programs act as an economic stimulus. Because child care and pre-k professionals tend to spend much of their earnings locally, their jobs cause wage dollars to move multiple times through their communities. Facilities maintenance and supplies for early childhood programs are heavily local, spurring spending when and where it is most needed. Also, parents whose children are in reliable, quality care are able to work more productively and rely less on public assistance, while parents out of work can better search for jobs and participate in training programs. Such public investments can help attract new business by signaling the state’s commitment to workforce development.

The Partnership for America’s Economic Success is a national coalition of business executives, economists, funders and civic leaders mobilizing business to improve tomorrow’s economy through smart policy investments in young children today. It is managed by the Pew Center on the States and funded by Robert Dugger, the George Gund Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Ohio Children’s Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts and Scholastic, Inc.

5 Comments

  1. The most critical statement of this post is what you stated about the impact to not supporting children who cannot read or function in the classroom, the prisons will continue to fill up. The classroom is so critical because of the simple fact that many children do not have quality home lives. Thank you for this post~

  2. I totally agree.
    Education is the best investment a nation can make to insure a bright future.

    As a former educator and experienced communications professional, it is crystal clear we have a long way to go. Yes, we MUST continue early childhood education,but,we must also work on changing the negative attitude towards education and literacy. Have you ever heard a student say:
    “Getting good grades is just for certain ethnic groups…its not cool to get A’s”
    “I want to be a moviestar, top-athlete or the next American Idol”.

    Our society needs to give more value AND respect to education, intellect and teaching values of
    kindness, responsibility, etc.

  3. I agree with you one hundred percent, however I think Head Start should be strenghtened. The educational curriculum should be emphasized to include state early learning standards so by the time that students leave Head Start, they will be on par with their classmates who went to other early childhood programs.

  4. Without even reading this article, I planned to come on here (Linkedin) and make similar comments. Which is more expensive – Prison or Head Start? I worked in family services management for three years at a Head Start program. Studies show that Head Start children have the same knowledge as children from private pre-schools when they enter elementary. When the kids can have one thing to be proud of this motivates them to do well in school.

    The Head Start program is not just for the children but for the families as well. A comprehensive, whole family package is included in the curriculum. There are advocates who meet with the parents each day working to help them create goals and achieve them. Whether this be finding a job, getting their own education, or helping out at the school; participating as a parent volunteer. Head Start, back in the early 90’s began a fatherhood support group designed to get men involved so that it wasn’t a program for mothers and children. It is important when you can keep both father and mother involved in the child’s upbringing, whether this be in the same house or not.

    I went on from Head Start into the Department of Social Services where I rarely came across the children I met years prior. Of course that is pretty limited statistics, solely based on my own clientele, though I did find it pretty interesting. Sometimes I would bump into ex-employees who provided insight into the success of the children we had once served and this further clarified my suspicions. When you work with families, before they get picked up by the Department of Social Services, this helps to trigger issues early on. I can’t say enough about the advantages to inner city children and early education. I can say that Michael Tikkanen is someone we should listen to as he knows what he is talking about. Without Head Start (3-5 years) and Early Head Start (0-3 years) programs I think you will see an increase in children removed from parents, an increase in adolescent crime, which will all of course lead to an increase in the population in our prison system.

  5. Thank you for adding your voices to the important issue of early childhood programs. Part of the success of Head Start is that they have a targeted approach to engaging families. In my many years of consulting I have never met a Head Start parent who has “not interested”. They often have barriers that, without support and assistance, may stand in the way but 99% of them love their children and want them to have a better life.

    In the discussions surrounding early childhood, I’d encourage a great deal of attention to the partnerships between families and educators, at any age in which those two parties are involved with a child. Authentic respect and engagement of families is just as essential as quality child care programs and, with the right tools and approaches, child care centers and schools have a much stronger likelihood of celebrating and supporting the family rather than taking over their role and pushing the parent aside or ignoring their important contribution to their children’s growth and development.

    Cathy Puett Miller is author of Anytime Reading Readiness, a guidebook for parents of 3-6 year olds and Before They Read, a partner title for educations in preschool and kindergarten.

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