According to the 2009 policy paper “Why America Needs High-Quality Early Care and Education” by the nonprofit Corporate Voices for Working Families, high-quality early childhood education programs focused on low-income children have a high return on investment.
The paper was meant to sway the country’s business and government decision makers by demonstrating how greater commitment toward such programs can reap rewards for society:
• Governments and taxpayers in the future would not have to pay as much for remedial and special education, criminal justice and welfare benefits if all 3- and 4-year-olds who live in poverty were provided access to a high-quality early childhood program. Further, as these children enter the workforce, their incomes — and consequently the taxes they pay — also would be higher.
• High-quality early childhood programs have generated benefit-cost ratios ranging from 2:1 to 17:1.
• Programs targeting at-risk families produce much higher returns on investment than most other economic development projects.
• High-quality early childhood programs have a greater impact on job growth than business subsidies. The “earnings effects” of such programs are three times greater than those from business subsidies.
• The cost savings generated by early care and childhood education programs outpace most public and private investments.
Access To Learning Matters
Poor children without access to high-quality early childhood education programs already have the cards stacked against them once they enter kindergarten.
According to the 2009 policy paper “Why America Needs High-Quality Early Care and Education” by the nonprofit Corporate Voices for Working Families, poor children face a wide gap in school readiness compared to children from families with greater means, particularly if they don’t attend preschool:
• Three-year-olds from low socioeconomic status (SES) families have average vocabularies of 480 words, compared to middle SES children at 750 words and high SES children at 1,100 words.
• The highest SES kindergartners as a group have 60 percent higher average achievement scores than those in the lowest SES group.
• Less than half (47 percent) of low SES kindergartners have attended preschool, compared to two-thirds (66 percent) of higher SES children. The higher SES group also has access to higher-quality programs.
Children from environments that do not stimulate them by cultivating cognitive and non-cognitive abilities are at a much greater disadvantage than others.