The First Eight Years

Giving Kids a Foundation for Lifetime Success

By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

December 3, 2013


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. 

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway

230 1

The findings in this policy report suggest that high-quality early childhood programs that include support for families have a powerful and lasting impact on children as they progress through school and into adulthood.

Since 2010, federal spending on children has declined and is projected to continue decreasing over the next decade to its lowest point since the Great Depression.

Findings & Stats

230 2

Early Childhood and Adult Success

Investing in the first 8 years for low-income households is critical for children to succeed in both school and life.

230 3

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.

230 4

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.

230 5

Race and Cognitive Skills

Only 14% of black and 19% of Hispanic kids have appropriate cognitive skills by age 8.

Statements & Quotations