Making early care and education affordable, accessible, and high quality is a rare win-win policy with the largest return on investment (ROI) of any societal investment. The wins are
(1) creating a greater likelihood of equitable kindergarten readiness;
(2) providing families peace of mind, knowing that their children are well cared for;
(3) giving early educators more training and a livable wage; and
(4) providing Alaska with a better educated, emotionally prepared, and more productive workforce.
A Strong, Healthy Start
During the first five years of a child’s life, one million new brain connections form every second, laying a foundation for social-emotional development, learning, and skill-building. High-quality childcare programs provide environments, experiences, and relationships that promote learning and development to ensure children have a strong start. With access to quality early education, preventative health screenings and services, and early interventions for developmental and social-emotional delays, all Alaska children can be ready for kindergarten. Each will start school with an opportunity to build on their skills, and excel.
With sufficient investment in high-quality early learning programs, our children are more likely to graduate high school, have a good job, earn higher wages, stay out of prison, and stay free of chronic conditions. Every dollar invested in high-quality early learning and health yields as much as $13 in savings. Additional taxes paid by parents who can work full-time, and by their more successful children, can cover the cost of early childhood education.
The pandemic has made it clear how vital quality childcare is for the health of our economy: it is both a public good and an important part of our infrastructure. We cannot go back to a “normal” that worked for so few of our families. It may take years, but now is the time to start creating a new normal!