“Early childhood development is a smart investment. The earlier the investment, the greater the return.” James Heckman, noted American economist and Nobel laureate, has the evidence to back up his statement. Investing in the first five years—the most formative years of a child’s life—benefits our society through long-term economic gains such as a reduced crime rate, a more stable economy, and a more competent workforce. But we know we can’t wait until children are three or four years old to make that investment. Critical formations in the brain begin prenatally and the experiences of our infants and toddlers are foundational for their ability to learn. Instances of abuse and neglect, shown to occur at the highest rates in the infant and toddler years, further erode children’s futures. We can’t afford to wait.
We have made strides but we must do better. Through the tireless efforts of many, Florida’s business leaders and policy makers are coming to understand that high-quality early learning begins with a knowledgeable and competent workforce. I am confident we are moving the needle in the right direction.
We encourage you to make your voice heard and join us in our sense of urgency. While we have made progress, we are missing formative windows of opportunity for many children to ameliorate conditions contributing to child risk that threaten later success. To that end, we have changed our tagline to keep us focused “…because kids can’t wait.” Stand with us to help ensure that waiting is no longer an option.
Dr. Phyllis K. Kalifeh