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Early child development and education programming have proven to be effective investments in both young children and the communities in which they live. An international body of research points to strong evidence that high-quality early child development and early education policies, with appropriate standards and accountability, yield many more benefits than costs through the use of finite community resource dollars. Not only do young children acquire important social-emotional skills that yield long term benefits to both society and individual families, but the early years are the greatest opportunity to develop cognitive skills for optimal brain development, healthy habits, and lay a foundation for years of future academic success. Employers also capture short and long-term benefits for their local firms when early care and education is supported. Yet many communities, including Nashville-Davidson County have not made concentrated, comprehensive efforts to support robust and aligned early care and education efforts to ensure the sustained healthy development and success of their youngest citizens.
Those seeking to reduce deficits and strengthen the economy should make significant investments in early childhood education. Professor Heckman's ground-breaking work with a consortium of economists, psychologists, statisticians and neuroscientists shows that early childhood development directly influences economic, health and social outcomes for individuals and society. Adverse early environments create deficits in skills and abilities that drive down productivity and increase social costs - thereby adding to financial deficits borne by the public.
As part of the strategic planning process engaged in during 2008-2009, the Collaboration adopted benchmarks for the Oak Park Early Childhood System. The benchmarks were chosen because they are relevant, measurable and provide data that can be used and acted upon to further system development and better prepare children for success in school and in life. The benchmarks allow for targets and dates to be specified. The Collaboration will define these measures in increasing increments, based on funding levels.
Today more than ever, businesses need employees who are well prepared to succeed in a competitive economy. But the current workforce pipeline is not sufficient - not for businesses that need highly-skilled staff, not for young people who need good paying jobs, and not for the nation that needs a growing economy. When processes fail, business leaders do not look for solutions after the fact - they look upstream to prevent them from happening in the first place. The foundation for success starts in the earliest years of children's lives, when they begin to develop the knowledge, skills, and behaviors they need to do well in school and beyond. To fix our failing workforce pipeline, we need to help our children get the good start in life that will enable them to succeed.
The Collaboration for Early Childhood is a model public/private partnership that leverages the resources of more than 40 local agencies to create a community-wide system of high-quality programs and services that foster physical, cognitive and social-emotional development during the critical first five years of life.
Denver's 5 By 5 Project aims to provide Denver Head Start children and families with at least 5 cultural experiences by the age of 5, putting into action their belief that the municipality can and should play a role in improving the "school readiness" of the City's children. The 5 By 5 Project enhances learning for Denver's young children by offering free admission to the city's premier cultural institutions. A central purpose of Denver's 5 By 5 Project is to provide parents with enjoyable and fulfilling experiences as first teachers of their young children and increase family engagement.
Almost everyone believes that afterschool programs are one of those good things for youngsters. And yet many kids are left out: Only 15 percent - 8.4 million - of the country's school children participate, according to a report, "America After 3 PM," by the advocacy organization Afterschool Alliance. That leaves millions more students returning to empty houses, or worse. At a Feb. 21-22, 2013, conference in Baltimore, close to 400 people invited from 57 U.S. cities gathered to discuss what they could do to push for better afterschool programs - and make sure that programming is available to all the kids who need it.