Advocating for Early Childhood Learning
Every child needs effective early childhood development to be successful. But disadvantaged children are the least likely to get it. When we invest in, develop, and sustain the early education and development of people — our nation’s greatest natural resource — everyone wins.
Investing in Children’s Early Development
Individual children develop at their own pace, including their interests, temperament, style of social interaction and approach to learning. Ages 0 to 5 are critical for building a foundation of literacy for a child, which is really about the early relationship a child develops with a parent or caregiver. The frequency that a parent reads to a child or the number of words a parent speaks to a child, for example, can negatively or positively affect the child’s later academic achievement.
Circumstances and stresses in families, such as low income or poor access to health care, can hinder children’s success. Research shows that at-risk children are more likely to be behind their peers during their formative years.
90% of a child’s brain and 85% of a child’s intellect, personality, and social skills develop in the first five years. Unfortunately, 96% of public spending on education occurs after age 5 when children begin kindergarten. Therefore, as a society, we are not putting our resources where they will have the most impact.
Getting Behind and Staying Behind
Children who start behind in kindergarten are more likely to stay behind as they move through school. Nationally a child behind in first grade has less than a 13% chance of catching up to grade level — and that can follow a child throughout their educational journey.
If a child is not a moderately skilled reader by the end of third grade, the child is less likely to graduate from high school. Being intentional about supporting children’s learning in the 0 to 5 age range will positively impact the quality and effectiveness of their education from kindergarten through 12th grade.
74% of children who are poor readers in third grade are still poor readers in ninth grade.
A Model Showroom for Positive Impact
Combining service delivery with professional development and advocacy, Educare is among the most compelling and promising models of early childhood education reform. Like other Educare Schools, Educare Arizona serves as a showroom to demonstrate what high-quality, well-implemented early learning programs can look like.
Our unique work helps convince policymakers, business leaders, and others who invest in early childhood learning that they can make a significant difference in life for our society’s most disadvantaged and underserved children.
Educare Arizona and other Educare schools participate in significant policy change efforts to increase the levels of private and public investment in the first five years of children’s lives. We encourage government to look at early childhood funding in new and innovative ways.
Through our policy efforts, Educare Arizona creates new champions for early learning by demonstrating what is possible in actual early learning classrooms. By partnering with families and advocates, Educare collaborators across the nation have become powerful voices for change. Ultimately, Educare Arizona’s goal is to produce a dramatically new standard of effectiveness that delivers long-term gains for children living in and near poverty. Research proves that such gains are possible and well within our reach.
A Training Ground for Learning Professionals
Besides helping develop the social and cognitive development of infants, toddlers, and young children, Educare Arizona also serves as a training ground for early learning professionals. In addition to visiting our school, early learning professionals observe and receive coaching in the teaching methods and practices that Educare Schools have developed over the past decade.
By bringing high quality approaches to the children they serve, Educare Arizona helps raise teaching standards and educational outcomes. By building communities of learning and practice, Educare Arizona extends itself beyond our walls so that all children can share the dream of equal opportunity for all.
Successful Policy Work in Behalf of Children
Examples of policy wins from Educare sites across the nation include the following:
Educare of Omaha helped advocacy and philanthropic leaders make the case for Nebraska to dramatically increase its investments in early learning programs. The Nebraska state constitution now declares that learning begins at birth, and a $60 million public-private endowment is expanding quality birth-to-three services.
Educare Chicago opened in 2000, after which Illinois increased state funding of early childhood investments by over $172 million and moved toward fully funding preschool services.
Educare of Tulsa helped inspire a $25 million pilot program to promote the school readiness of at-risk children. After visiting Educare of Omaha, the Kansas governor supported establishing an $11 million early childhood block grant with a set-aside for infants and toddlers.
Educare of Central Maine opened its doors in 2010. But even before opening, it helped to promote expanding state prekindergarten programs, redirecting funds to early education and prevention programs, and improving the state’s child care quality standards.