Sunday, May 16, 2010

Child Care and Economic Development

KidCentric has long touted the benefits of employer-sponsored child care--employee recruiting and retention, reduced absenteeism and turnover, employee loyalty, etc. Bill Millett, founder of Scope View Strategic Advantage, is now making the case for the necessity of child care for businesses and the economy in general to thrive. It is a case that KidCentric has made as an aside for years, but new research makes it an issue that needs to be examined again if employers want to have a future employee base. With 72 percent of 17 to 24-year-olds not currently able to meet the basic minimum standards required for military service, it seems that the benefits, and absolute necessity, of high-quality early care and education can no longer be overlooked.

Wise Investment
Speaker says early childhood education essential for business, economy to thrive
By Dionna Harris
POSTED: May 15, 2010

ESCANABA - If America has any chance of regaining its advantage as a global leader, changes in education perceptions must be made.
That was the message delivered Friday by Bill Millett during a presentation held at the House of Ludington. Millett is the founder of the Charlotte, N.C.-based Scope View Strategic Advantage. Millett's firm deals primarily with business and economic development. However, Millett has an intense personal interest in children's issues dealing with quality early education.
Millett's presentation, "Early Childhood Education; A Competitive Necessity in a Global Economy" was sponsored by the Delta-Schoolcraft Great Start Collaborative.
"Currently one third of all college students are taking remedial classes," said Millett. "Among high school students, the dropout rate is 30 percent."
Millett said, during the past 25 years, Americans have become complacent about early childhood education. This complacency has led to other countries surpassing the U.S. in the global market.
"Children today are facing a much more competitive world than it was 25 years ago. There is a finite number of jobs and more and more people are chasing those job opportunities," said Millett.
He said children today are living in a global and cognitive age.
One problem, he explained, is too much of education today is dedicated to memorization. There is a lack of practical application and collaboration for problem solving.
The solution, said Millett, is to invest time and resources to improve kindergarten through 12th grade education in the United States.
Millett added the economic and social costs not only to individuals, but communities, are too great to ignore.
Research revealed the capacity for developmental skills begins within the first five years of life, said Millett. Creativity, communication, team working, problem solving and critical thinking skills are beginning.
"These studies reflect the need for children to enter kindergarten prepared to learn. Unfortunately, too few young children today are prepared with these tools when they enter kindergarten," said Millett.
"A study was conducted between 1962 and 1967, where preschool teachers worked extensively with children from low-income families," said Millett.
The results reflected that after 40-years, almost one-half of the preschool children performed at grade level by age 14, with 60-percent earning nearly $20,000 per year.
"When the higher number of school grades completed was factored in, along with lower rates of criminal activity, reduced time spent in prison and other factors, the benefit to cost ratio was approximately $17 for every $1 invested," said Millett.
He said early childhood education offers greater potential returns with less risk. Unfortunately, early childhood development programs are rarely portrayed as economic development initiatives, which is a mistake, according to Millett.
Millett said for companies to become more competitive, an educated workforce is necessary. Aggressive preschool training for children, especially those from troubled homes, can yield extraordinary results for families and society.
"If early childhood education programs appear at all, they are at the bottom of the economic development lists for state and local governments. They should be at the top," said Millett. "America's continuing efforts to improve education and develop a world-class workforce will be hampered without federal and state commitments to early childhood education."
The plight of education regarding early childhood education is not only being seen in the global market, but also in America's military strength.
Research indicates 72 percent of 17 to 24-year-olds do not meet the basic minimum standards required for military service.
"We must invest now in the next generation to preserve our nation's security, freedom and opportunity. This includes fully funding early childhood education programs," said Millett.