June 8 is National Children’s Day, a perfect day to dream about the wonderful future we could enjoy if we took better care of our nation’s children.
A generation of children who had plentiful food, love, education and quality health care could dramatically change the world. They would be literate, could reverse poor health trends like obesity and diabetes and put real brain power toward resolving the world’s problems.
This vision is not a fantasy; we already know what is needed. Research directly connects quality investment in the first five years of children’s lives with lifetime benefits.
I am the executive director of a nonprofit organization providing early intervention and early education services. I witness the meaningful benefits of early investment in children every day.
It’s hard to fathom the gap between those who agree that children are our most valuable national resource and their attitude toward public spending on children’s services: food assistance, early childhood education and intervention. All of these funds have seen budget cuts.
Cutting programs that serve children does not benefit taxpayers. Quite the opposite. Investing in children in their first five years is what saves future public spending: on special education, social services, lost productivity, incarceration — the list goes on.
So on National Children’s Day, imagine living in a nation that loves its children better than it loves wealth or power. What’s the difference between that world and this one? Not very much: just the will to make it happen.
KARA D. MOSTOWY
The Early Learning Institute