This is an important story from NHPR about potential support for early childhood development in New Hampshire. It’s about a grant application the State is making to the federal government, but more than that, it’s about the challenge of providing high quality early childhood education.
It’s time to have a public conversation about state support for early childhood development in New Hampshire. This piece is a good start. Here’s the first couple of paragraphs, but you should definitely read the whole thing:
New Hampshire officials are working on an application for a federal Race to the Top Grant for Early Childhood Education. If the state is selected in this round, it could receive up to $37.5 million dollars to support initiatives to improve childcare and preschool programs all over the state. While there is growing interest in pre-k issues the challenges standing in the way of better or more affordable childcare are daunting.
There’s a study that people in the area of early childhood education love to bring up when they want to show how important the years from birth to Kindergarten are.
“Nobel Laureate James Heckman has done some of the most cited work out there,” says Laura Milliken of Spark NH, a group created by Governor John Lynch to serve as the state’s early childhood advisory council, “[Heckman] says any dollar invested in early childhood has a $7 to $10 dollar return on the investment.”
This is the basic argument for investing in pre-k. They say it’s during these years that the first signs of a gap between privileged and underprivileged kids start to form, and dealing with it early is much cheaper than trying to create programs that will re-engage jaded high school students, or train up college dropouts. “We’re literally building the architecture of children’s brains,” explains Milliken.
“It’s like a house, it’s built from the bottom up and it’s either a sturdy or a fragile foundation,” adds Jackie Cowell, who directs Early Learning NH, a non-profit that does training for childcare providers, and advocates for expanded pre-k.