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Early Childhood Education Investment: An Investment in Our Kids & Our Economy


What would you say if we told you that a single type of state investment could do these three big things?

1. Increase high school graduation rates.
2. Improve an adult’s job prospects.
3. Help a great percentage of Missourians become successful contributors to our economy.

We're here to tell you that early childhood education investments help with all of those things and more.

Ready Nation is one of the many independent organizations in the U.S. that takes a powerful stand in regards to the return on investment that early childhood education brings to communities, business, and students. It says that quality early learning programs “have been shown to immediately generate about $2 for every $1 invested, through the sale of local goods and services, providing an immediate benefit to communities and making early learning an important economic sector.” (Source)

If we offered you a retirement plan that had a 2-to-1 return, you would jump on the opportunity. But when policymakers have the opportunity to invest in early childhood education in Missouri, there’s much contention.

Recently, the Springfield Daily Leader published a news story about a head start program whose state funding suddenly and unexpectedly disappeared. Communities in Springfield, Branson, Bolivar, Marshfield, and Ozark could all be affected.

Across the state in Kirksville, Missouri, another early childhood program saw November funding cuts. The Northeast Missouri Community Action Agency lost 74 slots for Early Head Start Program students, leaving it funding for just 14 slots. 74 families will be affected. 54 will be slots previously filled by students, and 20 will be prenatal slots—all in a town of less than 18,000 people. (Source)

Study after study shows that early childhood education is a good investment—not just in kids, but a good investment in economies. Here are just a few examples:

· Missouri’s own Now for Later campaign says that, “Longitudinal studies indicate a societal return on investment in early childhood programs of approximately $10 per $1 invested.” (Source)

· A cost-benefit analysis by the Journal of Public Economics “suggests that a dollar invested in an early childhood nutrition program in a developing country could potentially return at least three dollars worth of gains in academic achievement, and perhaps much more.” (Source)

· Ready Nation says that at-risk students (like those who are often served by the Head Start program like the one mentioned in Kirksville) who participate in quality early childhood learning programs their median earnings” by as much as 36%.” (Source)

· Nobel Prize-winning economist Dr. James Heckman is a powerful advocate for investing in early childhood education. He believes “the most cost-effective route to strengthening the workforce is to invest in early education.” (Source)

Missouri must stand up for and invest in early childhood education. Cutting the same programs that a wide body of research has shown has an impressive return on investment while simultaneously funding expensive and inefficient programs like Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs) is one more example of bad #MissouriMath.

A new legislative session will open in Missouri in January, and Missouri Parent believes that it is worth advocating for early childhood education. If you agree, please contact your local lawmakers to let them know that early childhood learning programs are a strong investment in Missouri’s future.

To stay informed on the January session in the Legislature, and to remain up-to-date on policy and funding issues affecting Missouri public school, bookmark the Missouri Parent Blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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