According to decades of research, the best way to ensure a successful workforce in the future is to invest in early childhood development now. And the best way to provide early learning for needy kids is by coordinating family, school and community efforts. But analysis shows that by age 8, most children in the United States are not on track in cognitive knowledge and skills because efforts are not coordinated or linked to outcomes. This KIDS COUNT policy report makes the case for an integrated and comprehensive solution to meet the developmental needs of all children through age 8.
Investing in the first 8 years for low-income households is critical for children to succeed in both school and life.
Delays Cause Setbacks
The longer society waits to intervene in children’s lives, the more costly and difficult it becomes to make up for early setbacks, particularly for kids of color.
Research shows that every dollar invested in high-quality early childhood education produces a 7% to 10% annual return on investment.
Little Return on Little Effort
One or two individual programs will not give most lagging kids the boost they need to reach key milestones in their development.
Race and Cognitive Skills
Only 14% of black and 19% of Hispanic kids have appropriate cognitive skills by age 8.
Poor vs. Rich Assistance
Among 2- through 8-year-olds identified with developmental issues, poor kids were more than twice as likely as their higher-income peers never to receive services.
Statements & Quotations
For children to succeed, we must first dispel the notion that classroom learning is isolated from other aspects of child development. Then, we must create opportunities for children to develop the full array of competencies that they need to thrive.
By the time children in families with very low incomes enter kindergarten, they are 12 to 14 months behind in language and pre-reading skills compared with children in higher-income families.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke put it this way, “Economically speaking, early childhood programs are a good investment…. Notably, a portion of these economic returns accrues to the children themselves and their families, but studies show that the rest of society enjoys the majority of the benefits, reflecting the many contributions that skilled and productive workers make to the economy.
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