DEVELOPMENT • EARLY CARE & EDUCATION • ECONOMIC IMPACT TOP
PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL & SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
Babies are born with 100 to 200 billion cells in their brain. Most nerve cells are made before birth. The number created in the womb is nearly a lifetime’s worth. Cells that fire together, wire together. This is learning. The brain grows most in the first 3 years of life. Most of this growth is in the number of branches of nerve cells that connect with other cells. Pruning begins soon after 12 months, the connections that aren’t being used disconnect, those nerve branches that aren’t being used die back; those nerve cells that aren’t being used die off.
Rural young children are at significant disadvantage, in comparison to non-rural children, for many key indicators:
- Rural children overall are 60% more likely to be placed in special education in kindergarten.
- Rural children are significantly less likely than non-rural children to have parents with at least a bachelor’s degree.
- Rural children are only about half as likely as non-rural children to live in households with annual incomes of $75,000 or more.
- Rural black children are significantly more likely than non-rural children to have parents who lack high school degrees.
Families are more stable when the needs of their young children are met. When children are healthy and in reliable care, their parents are more likely to maintain steady employment and are typically more productive workers. When children enter school ready for success schools are better able to meet high standards and student needs. Successful schools benefit all students, improve a city’s livability, and help develop a strong future workforce.
For each family, the amount a parent talks to their children is consistent across time. By the time they are four years old, it is estimated that some children have heard over 50 million words addressed to them by their parents, while others have heard on 10 million words. And some four-year-old children have heard over 800 thousand affirmative statements from their parents while others have heard less than 80 thousand.
When they are awake and with their parents, 1- and 2-year-old American children hear an average of:
The amount of parent talk differs greatly between families: Some parents address fewer than 500 words to their child in an hour of family life, while others address over 3,000 words. Some parents express approval and encouragement more than 40 times in an hour of family life and other parents less than 4 times an hour.
Minnesota has the highest percentage of working parents of young children of any state in the nation – 79% of mothers in Minnesota are in the workforce.
EARLY CARE & EDUCATION
Of the nearly 1 million children 0 to 12 years old in Minnesota, 68% spend part of their day in the care of someone other than their parents. According to the Department of Education’s 2003 Kindergarten Readiness Assessment, 77% of Minnesota’s entering kindergartners attended an early care and education program.
Children who get the nurturing and the attention they need early in life do better in school. Because positive early experiences can foster the development of important academic and social capacities, high-quality child care during the first three years of life is related to fewer reports of problem behaviors and higher levels of cognitive development, school readiness, and language development. Negative experiences can have lasting effects. Early exposure to violence, for instance, increases a child’s risk of violent and self-destructive behavior later in life.
New research by the Yale University Child Study Center found that, based on data from 40 states: Preschool children were over three times more likely to be expelled when compared with children in grades K to 12. Expulsion varied considerably across states, ranging from a rate of 4 per 1,000 students in the ten highest states. The likelihood of expulsion was predicted by age, gender, and race. Five year olds were expelled almost twice as often as four-year olds and three times often as three-year olds. Boys were more than four times as likely to be expelled as girls, and African American children were about twice as likely to be expelled as European American children.
In 2002 and again in 2003, the Minnesota Department of Education’s School Readiness Assessment found that nearly 50% of five year olds were not fully prepared for kindergarten. Ten to 12% of entering kindergartners were found to be "Not Yet” proficient across five learning domains; about 40% were found to be "In Progress” and less than 50% were found to be "Fully Proficient” across the five learning domains. Second, Minnesota lags behind all other states in the K-12 achievement gap between white and black children. Third, of the over 841 full-day child care centers in Minnesota, only 11% are recognized by national accreditation for providing high-quality services. Of the many quality family child care providers in Minnesota, fewer than 2% have sought and achieved accreditation.
A recent study by the Minnesota Department of Human Services of 22 accredited center were "Fully Prepared” for kindergarten as compared to the statewide 2003 Minnesota Department of Education School Readiness Assessment Study. Less that 1% of the children in these accredited child care programs were performing in the "Not Yet Prepared” range. Another significant finding in this study was that children from economically and educationally disadvantaged households who attended an accredited child care center had school readiness ratings at the same levels as children from households with higher incomes and parent education levels.
Currently, 17% of all new high school credentials issued are to GEDs. The high school dropout rate has increased over time if one counts GEDs as dropouts. This is appropriate because GEDs earn the same wages as dropouts. The growth in the quality of the workforce, which was a mainstay of economic growth until recently, has diminished. Assuming that these trends continue, the U.S. economy will add many fewer educated persons to the workforce in the next two decades than it did in the past two decades.
Both the quality and quantity of the labor force are not keeping pace with the demands of the skill-based economy. The workforce is aging, and it will not grow in the near future as Baby Boom retirements put great stress on the fiscal system. Labor force quality has stagnated and has already reduced American productivity growth. Moreover, the U.S. labor force skills are poor. Over 20% of the US workers are functionally illiterate and innumerate.
In the short term, quality early education fuels the economy today. Because it involves the care of our most precious resource – our children who are our nation’s future citizens – we may not like to think of early care and education as an "industry” - but in part, it is. This is an important – if invisible – economic sector; licensed early education and child care businesses employ millions of providers and teachers nation-wide, pay billions of dollars in wages, purchase billions more in goods and services and generate even more in gross receipts. The National Child Care Association estimates that the industry employs over 900,000 people as providers and teachers, with another 2 million working as "family, friend, and neighbor” child care providers. Its conservative calculation of the licensed child care industry’s direct revenues in 2002 is $43 billion. However, if informal child care and after-school and summer enrichment programs are included, the total revenues would likely exceed $100 billion.
Strong early childhood programs are a valuable asset for local economic development. I the short term, these programs can help attract better workers and support working parents. In the longer term, a city that has made the necessary investments to maintain a quality workforce over time is likely to be more appealing to businesses looking for a stable location.
For well over 20 years, economic development has been a major preoccupation for most state and local governments. Around the country, billions of public dollars are spent each year to subsidize private companies so that they will either locate or expand their businesses in hometown markets. Recent studies of this approach to economic development, however, make clear that the so-called economic bidding war among state and local governments is actually counterproductive. At least from a national perspective, no new jobs or businesses are created; jobs and businesses are simply located or relocated to the highest bidder. The bidding war is at best a zero-sum game that distorts market outcomes and diverts public funds from more productive investments in economic development. One of the most productive investments that is rarely viewed as economic development is early childhood development (ECD). Several longitudinal ECD studies that are based on a relatively small number of at-risk children from low-income families, demonstrate that the potential return is extraordinary. Based on these studies, the potential annual return from focused, high-quality ECD programs might be as high as 16% (inflation adjusted), of which the annual public return is 12% (inflation adjusted).