Change the first five years and you change everything….
Our ADVOCACY efforts are focused on establishing investment in early childhood health and development for children age 0 – 5 years as a top priority in New Mexico. Among the 50 states, New Mexico consistently ranks at the bottom of the list in terms of overall health of its children. Currently we rank 50th in children's well-being. In order to create systemic change, our approach to, and support for, early childhood health and development must change.
Why is this so important?
First of all, it’s the right thing to do. And secondly, early child development is a cornerstone of community and economic health and development.
Early childhood health and development starts with parents. The foundation of a child’s development is the child’s relationship with the parents. Parents have the greatest initial opportunity to influence their child’s future health and development and we must ensure that parents have the support and capacity needed to support their children.
Half of the academic achievement gap evident in grade 12 can be attributed to gaps that already existed in 1st grade. Recent studies have shown that students who had learned much more in kindergarten were more likely to go to college than students with otherwise similar backgrounds. Students who learned more were also less likely to become single parents. As adults, they were more likely to be saving for retirement. Perhaps most striking, they were earning more.
Studies have also shown that children who start school ready to learn are more likely to read at grade level by 3rd grade. Children who read at grade level by 3rd grade are more likely to graduate from high school. High school graduates can enter the job market as tax-paying citizens. And, children who graduate from high school are more likely to go on to higher education and are more likely to encourage their children to go on to higher education. Confident, accomplished adults contribute to a healthy community.
Basic principles of neuroscience indicate that early preventative intervention will be more efficient and produce more favorable outcomes than remediation later in life. Children who participate in quality, structured early childhood development experiences (including health care, parent training and support as well as education) show long-term positive results in economic and health outcomes and a very positive return on investment.
Economists have increasingly focused on the long-term costs to society that can be avoided by investing in early childhood health and development. Studies show the return on investment to be as high as 16:1 – for every dollar spent in early childhood, sixteen dollars in social and other costs is avoided. These costs include the cost of incarceration, cost of remedial education, cost of social services and cost of treating chronic health conditions. From pregnancy through early childhood, all of the environments in which children live and learn, and the quality of their relationships with adults and care-givers have a significant impact on their cognitive, emotional, and social development.
To review our current advocacy agenda, click here.