Investing In Early Childhood Education Pays Off

By Efrain Nieves and Victoria Cepeda

Last week I tweeted about the positive effects of having our Latino children enroll in early education program as it was disseminated on the website. The article was titled “Early Childhood Education and Latino Children”  and highlights these findings:

  •  Latino children who experienced high-quality early education increased test scores by 54%. Those who participated in full school-day early education programs improved test scores by 73%.
  • Latino children who participated in a high-quality early education program showed dramatic gains in cognitive and language skills, two specific areas that predict strong kindergarten readiness.
  • Latino children who are English Language Learners (ELLs) benefit greatly from high-quality early education, as it exposes them to the English language at a young age, bettering their chances for academic success.

Coincidentally, yesterday at the LATISM tweetup Chief among the reasons for the low enrollment of Latino children in early education programs (pre-K) is the financial disadvantage many families with young children find themselves in.  In fact, 29% of Latino children live in poor families.

Which brings us to the “what can we do to help children in poor families gain access to early education programs” question.  Perhaps we could start by understanding that, more often than not, we have to make sacrifices in order to get ahead.  For instance, if we don’t cut down on credit card debt and become better consumers by using our debit cards more, our credit will suffer. If our credit suffers, our eligibility to get competitive mortgage, education and/or car loans diminishes. The same can be said if we don’t put aside some cash for our children’s early education thus forfeiting the opportunity to give them a sound head start in school.

But not all hope is lost,  after all most low income families do get back, on average, over a thousand dollars in child earned income credits. If used wisely, the tax credit could be used to enroll children in good summer programs and early childhood education. This just a suggestion and certainly does not necessarily fit everyone’s profile but it’s a start. Think of it as a deferred savings account.

In the end, the earlier we start motivating our children’s appetite for learning, the higher the chances of them going on to complete high school and graduate. What other suggestions do yourecommend?

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