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Making the Case: Investing in Early Childhood Development
The foundation for success in school and life begins at birth. To thrive and become productive adults, all children need: strong families, good health, quality learning opportunities, and supportive communities. Research shows long-term advantages for children involved in high quality early care and education. These children did better in school; were more likely to graduate from high school; were less likely to be arrested for violent crimes or for property or drug crimes; and were more likely to have a job at age 40 (with higher earnings).
Investing in quality early childhood programs yields the greatest returns for individuals, families and society. For every dollar invested in a high quality early learning opportunity, there is a benefit of between $7.00 and $17.00 to society. This includes savings in educational programs, reduced crime costs and welfare costs, and increased taxes from higher earnings. Unfortunately, while research in support of early care and education is compelling, public investment is not aligned. While most brain development occurs in the first few years of life, only 5% of public investment in children is made during this critical period. Legislation and policies promoting quality early learning and support for young children and their families make a difference. For example, the Teacher Education and Compensation Helps (T.E.A.C.H.) program increases the capacity of the early childhood workforce by creating incentives for professional development.