Investment in early education yields priceless returns
March 19, 2015 12:00 AM
As we begin another budget season in Pennsylvania I wanted to highlight an investment that always yields a positive return.
Early intervention and early childhood education services provide a strong foundation during the most critical period of brain growth, birth to age 5, when 85 to 90 percent of brain development occurs and as many as 700 neural connections per second are formed.
As a father, former police officer and early intervention professional I have witnessed firsthand the incredible impact early investment makes. My daughter Chloe was born in 2003 with a diagnosis of Down syndrome, and because of early intervention she now attends sixth grade at her neighborhood middle school, reads at grade level and excels in her community — priceless.
Research confirms a child’s experiences in these early years directly shapes how the brain develops, and these experiences determine the strength and function of brain wiring. A young child’s brain will adapt to a negative environment as easily as it will adapt to a positive one. As a police officer I witnessed the wreckage of not investing early in children, and the results often led to the corrections system, which is a skyrocketing budget cost.
Estimates from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University show up to a $9 return for every dollar invested in early childhood programs.
If there ever was an issue that is nonpolitical and bipartisan it would be early investment in the most precious resource we have in our state — children!
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