Early Childhood Education: It’s Everybody’s Business
By Bruce Myers, Program Coordinator
Smart Beginnings Virginia Peninsula
How do you get the smartest, most talented workers?
Employees who can solve complex problems?
Create new products?
To see the solution, you might have to crouch down a little.
When it comes to workforce development, young children are the proverbial sweet spot. Decades of research tell us that the first five years are a critical time in life, when many of the business world’s most coveted skills—communication, self-control, teamwork, cognitive abilities—are developed.
Yet only a select number of Peninsula families can and do enroll their child in a high-quality preschool or child care center. As a result, Peninsula children make up a large percentage of all kindergartners held back each year in Virginia—costing taxpayers approximately $8,000 per child. And children who start school behind tend to stay behind.
“It is possible to predict, with depressing accuracy, by age 5 who will graduate high school and college and who won’t.” (David Brooks, “The Biggest Issue,” New York Times, July 28, 2008)
Starting early is the key, especially for underprivileged children. Children who enter school healthy and who are mentally and socially ready to learn are shown to have:
- Higher job productivity
- Higher graduation rates
- Workforce readiness
- Community engagement
- Lower welfare dependency
- Lower job training costs
- Lower crime rates
“Quality early education for at-risk children can produce an annual rate of return as high as 16%—higher than most stock portfolios” (Art Rolnick, Senior VP, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis).
Investing in early childhood isn't just a long-term advantage – it can make a difference in your workplace today. Employees are more productive and able to focus on their jobs when their children are in high-quality care.
Business leaders are being challenged to take a greater role in public-private partnerships, as influencers of public policy and as financiers of improved early childhood education. In the 2009 “State of American Business” address, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce included a call for increased investments in early education.
Help finance, volunteer and advocate for early childhood services by getting your company involved with Smart Beginnings Virginia Peninsula. Together, we can make today’s children into productive members of the Peninsula workforce tomorrow.