(This post is part of a blog series on the crucial role of quality early childhood education and child care in caring for our youngest residents, creating thriving communities, and promoting a healthy economy. Read the introduction to this blog series and learn more about the programs we?ll be discussing here.)
Education research clearly documents that investments in early childhood programs are among the smartest investments that states can make. It is time now for policy makers from both parties in North Carolina to come together to reaffirm what previous policy makers in this state have well understood: That we must invest in our young children today not only because it is the right thing to do for them but because it is the right thing to do for our state.
North Carolina has long been a leader in early childhood programs. Starting in the early 1990s, then Governor Hunt led a crusade to address the many challenges facing young children in this state, and for 15 years the state’s Smart Start Initiative and, later, its More at Four Program were recognized as models for other states. Over the years, various studies by the Frank Porter Graham Center at UNC-CH have documented how these initiatives have helped young children and their families address challenges such as poor health, low-quality child care options, family dysfunction, and lack of readiness for school.
Along with our Duke colleague Kenneth Dodge, we have recently expanded that research by looking at the communitywide effects on third-grade outcomes of the Smart Start initiative aimed at children aged 0 to 5 and the More at Four program that funded slots in high-quality settings for at-risk four-year olds. Read More