The evidence continues to grow showing that the educational opportunity gap begins early – as young as 18 months.
Fortunately, parents, early childhood educators, and public officials know how to close that gap. That’s why they’re calling for increased investments in preschool, quality child care, voluntary home visiting and other programs that support the healthy development of young children.
Last week, two members of the Washington State House of Representatives – one Democratic and one Republican – urged our state’s Congressional delegation to support the state-federal early learning initiative. This bipartisan stance shares common ground with strong public opinion. Eighty-six percent of Americans say quality early care for babies, toddlers and preschool-age kids is a public priority second only to jobs and economic growth. Naturally, a state-national initiative that connects children to quality early learning would also substantially boost our economy in both the short and long term.
What’s also encouraging is the broad understanding by state and federal officials that children get a variety of benefits from solid early care. Early learning equips children for success not only in school, but in life. That’s why our state-level agency’s initiative to promote executive functioning is also an encouraging sign. Executive function, notes the Department of Early Learning’s bulletin, “is the brain’s ‘air traffic control system’ that allows us to manage multiple streams of information at the same time, control impulses and revise tasks as necessary. Acquiring the early building blocks of these skills is critical to school readiness and social development through middle childhood, adolescence, and into early adult life.”
Well-rounded and resilient children strengthen our communities and secure Washington’s place in the global economy. As state lawmakers continue to expand the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, well-rounded and resilient children will be the best indicator that we, as a state, are on the right track. A national-level early learning initiative will put needed wind in our sails.
To read one of the letters to Washington’s congressional delegation, click here.