As Congress continues to push historic reforms to early childhood education towards the finish line, Start Early president Diana Rauner joined Drew Furedi, president and CEO of Para Los Niños and Alejandra Barraza, president of HighScope Educational Research Foundation for a conversation about early childhood development moderated by Mark Oppenheim.
Start Early Joins Nonprofit Report to Discuss Importance of Investing in Children
As Congress continues to push historic reforms to early childhood education towards the finish line, Start Early president Diana Rauner joined a conversation about early childhood development moderated by Mark Oppenheim.
Throughout the engaging 30 minutes, the panel spoke to the research and evidence showing early learning and care is a smart investment in human capital, the needs of our underpaid and undervalued early childhood workforce, and how all families rely on supports to help their children be healthy and grow.
Research that shows ECE is a smart investment
Participants discussed the most recent research from Profession James Heckman and others finding quality early childhood programs create dynastic impacts that span across generations. While referencing the Perry Preschool Project, Diana mused that an investment made in 1965 that continues to bear returns in 2021 and likely into the future arguably has an infinite return on investment.
As Diana summarized, investing in early learning and care is essential to the future of our country. “The human brain is plastic and dynamic: skill begets skill. Investing at the beginning of the life is the most cost effective and efficient way to create a just society, one where every child can meet their potential, every individual can be their best, and we as a society benefit from the human capital.”
Elevating the profession through higher wages and professional development
The panel turned to how our society undervalues the expertise of our early childhood professionals and the policy decisions that make it irrational to make early childhood a career choice.
On average, child care workers make less than $14 an hour — shaping children’s brains during this critical period of brain development for less than a barista is paid to make coffee.
She concluded, “We’ve got this backwards. We’re paying college professors the most, then high school teachers, while the early childhood professionals doing the most profound developmental work are the lowest paid in the system.”
We’ve got this backwards. We’re paying college professors the most, then high school teachers, while the early childhood professionals doing the most profound developmental work are the lowest paid in the system.Diana Rauner, President, Start Early
All families need support
The panel also spend time talking about how every family needs foundational supports. Discussion included how families have never raised children by themselves—they’ve always relied on friends, supports and family to help them during this exciting and exhausting time.
But not every parent and caregiver has these supports, and children shouldn’t be punished. In our full-employment society, we must find a way for all children to be cared for in quality educational settings regardless of their location — be it a church basement, a child care center, an in-home provider or a preschool — so that parents can choose from developmentally appropriate, affordable and quality options.
Investing in what works
The panel ended with a great sports analogy by Drew Furedi, who shared that sports teams spend millions of dollars on scientific approaches that train and develop individual athletes. If we applied the same approach to develop each young person, we could gain so much—and we’re not talking millions of dollars per child.
We know what works. We have the answers. We just need to do it.
Raise your voice and encourage lawmakers to prioritize early learning and care at the local, state and federal level.
Make an Impact
Support Our Work
Together, when we start early, we can close the opportunity gap and ensure every child has a chance to reach their full potential.