WHY EARLY CHILDHOOD MATTERS
Indiana’s ability to assure that children are ready for school, can read at grade level by third grade, graduate from high school, pursue a post-secondary education and contribute to the economy is influenced by the healthy development of our youngest children.
Building a Strong Foundation
A child’s early experiences shape the brain’s architecture to either support a strong or fragile foundation for learning, health, and success in the workplace. Strong, positive relationships with parents and other caregivers are the building blocks for healthy development. All domains of child development – social emotional, physical, cognitive, communication and adaptive – are intertwined during the early years.
By one year of age, the head circumference, which reflects brain growth, has doubled in size. By three years of age, the child’s brain is 85% of the adult size brain. During the first 3 years, 700 new neural connections are created every second.
Narrowing the Achievement Gap
High-quality early childhood education is a critical component of K-12 success, and research shows it can help close the achievement gap. By increasing access to high quality early childhood education, Indiana has the opportunity to ensure that children are ready to learn and succeed in school, compete in the global economy and contribute to thriving communities. As the graph below shows, children from low income families know fewer than one-third as many words at age four than wealthier children, resulting in a 30 million word gap.
The Economic Case for Investing in Our Future Workforce
Early childhood education is a proven long-term investment that stimulates economic growth and ensures future prosperity. Right now, every dollar put toward early childhood education is both an educational and economic stimulus for American families – creating jobs and enabling parents to earn while their children learn. Economists have found that high-quality early childhood education offers one of the highest returns of any public investment – more than $7 for every dollar spent.