The early years matter. Below are 4 important reasons why as a society we should invest in early childhood education for all of our children.
But first, please watch this video to understand the difference we can make.
1. It's a Smart Investment
- Three of the most rigorous long-term studies found a range of returns between $4 and $9 for every dollar invested in early learning programs for low-income children.
- Early childhood program participants followed into adulthood had increased earnings
- Children participating in early learning programs had significantly fewer needs related to special education, welfare, or corrections (imprisonment) than peers who didn't participate in those programs.
- Investing early means increased tax revenues from program participants later in life, and decreased public expenditures on social services for them.
According to the Heckman Equation from Professor James J Heckman, Noble Prize winner in Economics, early childhood education brings a 10% annual rate of return
Research by Arthur J. Rolnick, contemporary economist and colleague of Heckman, reveals an even higher 16% rate of return.
2. Early Childhood Directly Affects Adulthood
- In the first few years of life, 700 new neural connections are formed every second
- Early experiences and the environments in which children develop in their earliest years can have lasting impact on later success in school and life.
- Early experiences actually get into the body, with lifelong effects—not just on cognitive and emotional development, but on long term physical health as well.
- A growing body of evidence now links significant adversity in childhood to increased risk of a range of adult health problems including diabetes, hypertension, stroke, obesity, and some forms of cancer.
- Adults who recall having 7 or 8 serious adverse experiences in childhood are 3 times more likely to have cardiovascular disease as an adult.
3. Disparities Grow Quickly in Childhood
- Barriers to children’s educational achievement start early, and continue to grow without intervention.
- Differences in the size of children’s vocabulary first appear at 18 months of age, based on whether they were born into a family with high education and income or low education and income.
- By age 3, children with college-educated parents or primary caregivers had vocabularies 2 to 3 times larger than those whose parents had not completed high school. By the time these children reach school, they are already behind their peers unless they are engaged in a language-rich environment early in life.
4. Young Children Need Our Support
- Children between birth and three years of age are the most likely age group to experience some form of maltreatment.
- Significant adversity impairs development in the first three years of life—and the more adversity a child faces, the greater the odds of a developmental delay.
- Risk factors such as poverty, caregiver mental illness, child maltreatment, single parent, and low maternal education have a cumulative impact: maltreated children exposed to as many as 6 additional risks face a 90-100% likelihood of having one or more delays in their cognitive, language, or emotional development.
- A safe, caring and stimulating environment with well-trained early childhood educators can help mitigate many adverse early experience.
Contact Your Legislators or Local Media
Use the links below to help you reach out to your elected officials or learn about what’s happening near you:
- Find and contact your federal legislators
- Find and contact your state legislators
- Learn about the federal legislative process, bill status, and key votes
- Check on election results by zip code
- Use the media to communicate key messages to the public or policymakers