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In May, Carolina Public Press published a Special Report about Children in Western North Carolina that includes stories about how proposed budget cuts to the Smart Start and More and Four could affect thousands of WNC children and how parents are already challenged navigating the state subsidized childcare system.
The Special Report also features a Photo Essay of children in a Smart Start-supported Henderson County childcare center and educational, health and welfare, and child and family advocacy resources for Western North Carolina children.
State budgets proposed by both the North Carolina House of Representatives and the North Carolina Senate include cutting funds to Smart Start and More at Four, the state’s early childhood education and child care programs.
What do you think? Do you support cutting funding to these programs? Why or why not? We want to hear your opinion and hope you’ll share your thoughts by commenting on this post.
And if you want to share your thoughts with your state legislators, you’ll find Western North Carolina legislator contact information here.
No time is the right time to cut funds to early childhood care and education programs – but now is most definitely a very wrong time to do so. NC has invested heavily in creating a more comprehensive early years program. These efforts improve educational outcomes for children in low-income families and provide a valuable support for working families and those going back to school. Our design in NC is seen as a model nationwide. Yet, the proposed budget cuts will drastically alter the existing design and reach.
Research on the early years (birth to 5) points to these years as the most important years for future educational success. The brain is forming rapidly and laying the foundation for literacy and math skills as well as social skills. Nobel Prize winning University of Chicago Economics Professor James Heckman has an equation that explains the value of investing in early and equal development of human potential. (http://www.heckmanequation.org/). He estimates a 10% return on investment in quality early childhood programs. Investing in the early years is good for children, families, and the economy.
If our legislature is concerned about building a prosperous future for our state, reducing achievement gaps in schools, curtailing drop out rates, and supporting working families it would do well to increase its investments in the early years.