In the earliest years, from birth through age five, children rapidly absorb information, their brains developing at an exponential rate unmatched in any other period of life. They develop a sense of the world and their place in it. They create bonds with their families. Providing infants and young children with supportive, nurturing relationships and enriching environments during this critical phase of development helps put them on a path to success in later years. Investing in children’s well-being while they are developing has been proven time and time again to be more cost effective than intervening after age five. Further, decades of education and public health research demonstrate that timely assistance to families with infants and young children has a lifelong impact on not only the child, but also on the child’s family and community.
Not all children begin life on equal footing; for example, 18-month old children from lower-income families are, on average, slower to process language than their higher income peers. Children facing certain types of adversity are more likely to experience developmental delays in childhood, and in adulthood, depression and substance abuse.
Quality early childhood services can reduce socio-economic and health disparities between children of different backgrounds and provide a stronger foundation for a healthy start. Indeed, the returns to early childhood investment yield over 12% for society in general, with 80% of those returns accruing to the public (i.e., through students achieving more in school and committing fewer crimes).
Children, their families, and society all benefit from investment in early childhood development and education.
Smart Beginnings works with more than 100+ partner organizations on a daily basis. Quarterly, we come together to discuss what’s going on in the sector, challenges, successes, barriers and make connections. Those meetings for 2021 will be :