Listening to the Science on Early Childhood Education
There have been a number of studies that have followed children from toddlerhood into early adulthood and even middle-age. The outcomes have been fairly clear-cut in both the US and Canada: quality early childhood education has a substantial positive impact on children and families. Moreover, these outcomes more than pay for the cost of the programs.
They do so in several ways. First, early childcare programs immediately enhance adult employability and earnings, with the result that governments immediately enjoy greater tax revenues.
Then, when program children enter school, Governments benefit because they are more successful in school — they are less likely to need (expensive) learning assistance, and they are more likely to graduate from high school, and to graduate on time. This means that program children are more likely to become employed (and therefore pay taxes). For the same reason, they are less likely to require social assistance, to use drugs, or to become involved with the police or the Courts — positive outcomes that result in substantial savings for governments.
These savings increase as children move into adulthood and middle-age. In some studies of programs that targeted low-income families, governments saved as much as $17 for every $1 spent on the early education program itself. Even for programs that targeted middle-income families, governments still saved more than they spent.
Thus over the long run, quality early childcare is free (Trefler, 2009). This is why such programs are recommended by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), UNICEF, and even the World Bank.
The NDP has long advocated strong early childhood education programs.
During last October’s provincial election campaign, Sharon Gregson was accused of partisan support for the NDP because of her comments on child care early in the election campaign. “But Gregson, spokesperson for the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC, a non-partisan organization advocating for the $10 a Day Child Care Plan, says she’s just stating facts. The NDP government invested more in child-care spaces, costs and wages in the last 3.5 years than the previous BC Liberal government did, she said.
“We have seen progress on all three fronts, which are affordability for families, new space creation and improved wages for educators,” said Gregson. “They stabilized and/or improved on each of those.”
“Since forming government [in 2017], the NDP has spent $2 billion on child care, the largest investment in B.C. history, according to the Early Childhood Educators of BC.
“The money provided capital funding for over 24,500 new licensed child-care spaces for infants to 12-year-olds; expanded Aboriginal Head Start programs in both Indigenous communities and urban areas; funded a $2-an-hour wage top up for educators; enrolled 53,000 families in an income benefit program for child care, which saw 32,700 of those families paying less than $10 a day for care; and subsidized child-care fees for another 63,000 families by $350 per month.
“That is an improvement from when the BC Liberals were in power and fees were rising at more than the rate of inflation,” Gregson said. The government is three years into its 10-year plan to provide universal $10-a-day care, which the NDP pledged to implement during the 2017 campaign.”
The Federal NDP, too, has also long supported child care — another important area where the Liberals have acknowledged the need for action but done nothing. Early childhood education is of fundamental importance. We must continue to move forward.