A child’s early years hold the key to their success. And our state’s. Children who are healthy and prepared when they enter kindergarten do better in school and are more likely to graduate and enroll in college. Well-educated adults are more prepared for the job opportunities of a global marketplace and to contribute to the strength of their communities.
Research by Nobel Prize-winning economist
James Heckman showed that every $1 invested in early childhood can yield returns between $4 and $16.
Investing in early childhood development means funding proven programs and innovative strategies for children from birth to age 5 that:
- Strengthen families in their role as their child’s first teacher
- Improve the quality of early learning environments like preschool and child care, and expand access to those programs
- Promote prevention and early identification of health problems that can impact learning later on
Ready for School, Set for Life
Numerous studies have demonstrated that children with access to quality early learning are more prepared for kindergarten. They have increased vocabulary, better language, math and social skills, more positive relationships with classmates, and they score higher on school-readiness assessments. And as they go forward in school and life, they are less likely to need special education services or be held back a grade, and are more likely to graduate and go on to college. These are better outcomes for kids that also save taxpayers money.
School Readiness = Workforce Readiness
Allocating resources to support the health and learning of young children is a critical economic development strategy. The business community agrees.
The competitiveness of small, medium and large companies depends on having a pipeline of talented, educated employees with the skills needed in today’s economy:
- Critical thinking
In Arizona, as in most of the United States, we don’t have enough workers with the skills that employers need. Nearly half the American workforce lacks the basic education and communication skills required to get a job and advance. One quarter of Arizona’s students don’t graduate from high school. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that we know how to solve this problem.
90% of critical brain development occurs before kindergarten. The skills and abilities employers are looking for — focus, self-discipline, motivation and collaboration — all start to take root in the first five years of life. The ROI from quality early education programs for children birth to age 5 is well established and quantifiable. Study after study demonstrates returns ranging from 4x to 16x, depending on the program analyzed, with strong, positive effects on:
- Kindergarten readiness
- Language, math and social skills
- K-12 test scores
- High school graduation
- College enrollment
Investing in quality early childhood programs for infants, toddlers and preschoolers is the only proven strategy to produce such returns. It also correlates strongly to less crime and less dependence on social services later in life.
We know the importance of early childhood. But don’t take our word for it:
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
“(T)he capacity for developmental skills begins in the first five years of life. This is the beginning point for a person’s creativity, communication, team working, problem-solving and critical thinking skills.”
The Committee for Economic Development
“Business leaders and policymakers should consider investment in young children one of the most effective strategies to secure the future economic strength of their communities and the nation.”
The Business Roundtable
“America’s continuing efforts to improve education and develop a world-class workforce will be hampered without a commitment to early childhood education.”
More about the economic impact of investing in young children