Larry Powell: Investing in early care, education benefits us all
04.13.2010 | Fresno Bee | Larry Powell
Larry L. Powell is Fresno County superintendent of schools.
The Fresno County Office of Education joins hundreds of local organizations in recognizing April 11-17 as Week of the Young Child. This is a special week to recognize the more than 35 million children from birth through age 8 in America.
It is also a time to acknowledge parents, teachers, administrators, and all those that work to improve the quality of care and education of young children. Research shows that high-quality early childhood programs help children, especially those from low-income families.
Federal, state and local governments, communities, parents, and the private sector must share in the responsibility of ensuring the well being of children and families. We must create more opportunities to help all children succeed. We can invest now in our children and families and enjoy long-term savings, with a more vibrant nation of healthy, achieving children and more stable families.
Investing in early care and education for children ages 0 to 5 is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve the San Joaquin Valley’s economy now and in the future. Early care and education programs produce important short- and long-term benefits for children, families, taxpayers and the community.
The early care and education industry is vital to Fresno County’s economy. It generates more than $200 million annually and provides more than 8,500 jobs. Additionally, access to affordable child care and education programs allows parents to participate in the work force.
Early care and education is also a smart investment in this region’s ability to compete in the national economy. According to a survey by Partnership for America’s Economic Success, 54% of U.S. business leaders believe that finding skilled and educated workers will be a significant challenge to managing their businesses in the future.
In order to ensure San Joaquin Valley’s economic success, we must find ways to better educate our work force. Many studies prove that children participating in high-quality preschool programs gain lifelong skills and improve their chances for future job market success.
Investing in quality early care and education programs provides long-term social and economic benefits for our community:
Children enrolled in a quality early care and education program are 70% less likely to commit a crime later in life.
Taxpayers save up to $16 for every dollar invested in future costs on special education, remedial education, teenage pregnancy and welfare payments.
Children who participate in quality early care and education programs have higher academic achievement, salaries and employee benefits than children who do not participate in these programs.
Our children will be the future employees, consumers and leaders driving our economy. We must create and sustain the infrastructure to support their development now, to benefit children still in their formative years. Policymakers, business leaders, philanthropists, and community-based organizations must ensure that investment in early care and education remains a top priority. It is an opportunity our businesses, neighborhoods and communities cannot afford to miss.
To hear from regional and nationwide business leaders and economic experts about why early care and education is a sound and necessary economic investment, I invite you to attend the San Joaquin Valley Regional Business Leader Summit on Early Care and Education on April 29 at the Radisson Conference Center in Fresno. Hear from business leaders and economic experts both local and nationwide, about early care and education as a sound economic investment.