When early childhood care and education get more investment, the returns are plentiful for children, parents, the childcare workforce, and the economy as a whole. That's the message from advocates we spoke to at an early childhood roundtable that took place in preparation for the 2018 California Economic Summit.
Participants met in San Francisco to explore new strategies for coordinating and encouraging early childhood programs with the help of the business community and other partners.
Our latest video captures some of the reasons
- why development of children in their first five years is important to the years after and
- why a prescription for a stronger economy and workforce should include expanded early childhood care and education options for people who couldn't otherwise afford it.
With the average annual cost of $9,984 for a preschool-age child in a licensed facility (in 2017), advocates say many disadvantaged Californians face the tough decision between working or staying home to care for children, between less income from not working or paying a large portion of income on childcare, between children who are more ready for school and those who aren't.
“The more we learn about brain science, the more we realize that it's even before the entry into preschool that children begin to diverge,” said Moira Kenney, executive director of the First 5 Association of California which co-hosted the event. “Children whose families are secure with housing, with food, with stable supports are ready for preschool.”
Participants sharpened recommendations presented in Early Childhood Investment: The Bridge to a Stronger Future for Children and California’s Economy, a report created in conjunction with the First 5 Association of California. The priorities that came out the meeting will be presented and considered at the 2018 California Economic Summit, happening on November 15-16 in Santa Rosa.
The Summit team added the emerging issue to its growing list of priorities due to the impact early learning has on overall economic prosperity, as well as upward mobility.
“What we've seen in other states around the country is that, when children have positive and well-supported early childhood experiences, they tend to show up to the K-12 system ready and they do better there,” said Kim Pattillo Brownson, vice president of policy and strategy at First 5 L.A.
The new efforts also seek to earn support from employers to also provide family friendly work environments through flexible work arrangements and other programs, which can help both children and parents benefit over the long term.
“I've been a child advocate for a while now,” said Ted Lempert, president of Children Now. “But I like to say really the best child advocates are business community because they want to make sure that we've got a strong workforce and that kids are getting the support they need.”
Sharpen your pencils and get registered for this year's Summit on the official 2018 California Economic Summit event site.