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Quality Early Childhood Education Impacts Future Employment, Education, Health, Success

First Posted: Oct 01, 2015 04:57 PM EDT
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Quality early childhood education has a substantial influence on future employment, education and health outcomes, according to a new report published in late September. The research highlighted findings within the Latino community and demonstrated the economic power of investing in early childhood education.

Center-based child care and public pre-K programs have tremendous effects on low-income Latino children, particularly when it comes to kindergarten readiness. Early education also impacts academic achievement and young Latinos' capacity for learning through third grade.

One quarter of U.S. children are Hispanic, and by 2050 it's expected that one in three will be Hispanic. Because Hispanic children are increasingly become a greater share of the educational system, it's necessary to place vested interest in the community, as they will become a large portion of the nation's future workforce.

The National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families (NRCHF) produced the report, and they studied children in publicly funded preschool programs in Miami. They found that children in preschool programs entered kindergarten with above average in areas of social-behavioral and pre-academic skills. Also, they found that dual-language learners who attended public-school pre-K are proficient in English than those enrolled in center-based care or child care during the previous year.

However, the preschool enrollment of Latino children remains fairly low. According to the report, less than half attended some form of preschool prior to kindergarten entry. Because of this, Latino children often enter school less ready to learn than non-Latino white children. Often, they lag behind their non-Latino white classmates in early language, literacy and mathematics, and this tends to be true regardless of English-language proficiency in the home. These findings are troubling because the academic skills children bring into kindergarten sets the stage for later school success; thus, students who enter school behind often stay behind.

The report stated, the success of Hispanic children will have "profound and increasing impact on the social and economic well-being of the country as a whole." Unfortunately two-thirds of Hispanic children live in poverty or near poverty. Additionally, many U.S. Latinos with high levels of economic need don't participate in government support programs, particularly those in immigrant families. Hispanic children and families need to be informed of programs and policies that support low-income Hispanic families.

The short-term benefits of early care and education programs for academic development has long been documented, but the NRCHF report additionally explored the long-term benefits of early childhood education on future income, success and education, particularly for Latinos. The study also shared insight on "gaps in the existing literature regarding the potential influences of organized/center-based pre-K settings on subsequent achievement among low-income Latino children."

Child care subsidies are an important resource for low-income parents who require quality child care while they pursue or maintain employment. The study revealed Latino children who attend public pre-K enter kindergarten far more prepared to learn than those who attend either informal or center-based programs outside the public school system. The majority of low-income Latino children in the Miami School Readiness Project (MSRP) entered kindergarten with strong English language skills, and Latino children from low-income families who attended public school pre-K programs scored 10-percentile points above national averages on assessments of pre-academic skills. Despite readiness gaps, evidence suggests that Latino children have stated making gains in areas of early school success.

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