Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Child Care and America's Future

"Our nation now faces tough choices to renew the economy, but fiscal prudence cannot be served at the expense of under-investing in the well-being and future of our children – and thereby preventing unnecessary remedial expenditures" (p. 9). 

Wow!  The new report from the Committee for Economic Development (CED) spells out the critical need for early education about as clearly as possible and takes the country to task for sacrificing the future for the sake of the present.  Their findings, conclusions, and recommendations are compelling from a business/economic development point of view (which easily translates to a social point of view as well): 
  • "If a community’s talent pool is weak, economic development stagnates and business suffers" (p. 7).
  •  "Right now 20 percent of the American labor force is functionally illiterate or innumerate" (p. 7). 
  • "...the best returns on human capital investment occur during the early years of life. The benefits to our communities far outweigh the immediate costs" (p. 9). 
  • "Globalization and new technology have reduced the chances of earning a living wage without advanced skills or education, at the same time that the proportion of Americans who meet that standard is shrinking" (p. 10).
As a military "brat", I'm still shaking my head about this statistic: "Research released by the Department of Defense (DOD) graded the fitness of American youth as poor; less than 25 percent of 17 to 24 year-olds in the United States would be eligible for military service, mostly due to health issues, such as obesity, but also because of the lack of a high school diploma, or a criminal record" (p. 10).  We can have the most advanced military equipment in the world, but if we don't have the personnel to operate it, our national security is in serious trouble.

Mindy and I have banged the drum for corporate child care for many years, focusing on issues of employee recruitment and retention, productivity, attendance, loyalty, etc.  Even when we could show a positive return on investment, it was a really tough sell.  It's great to now see business leaders speaking so forcefully about social/community impacts of quality child care and the need for business to step up.  "Business leaders and policymakers should consider investment in young children one of the most effective strategies to secure the future economic strength of their communities and the nation" (p. 7).  Well done! 

Committee for Economic Development. Unfinished Business: Continued Investment in Child Care and Early Education is Critical to Business and America’s Future. (2012) Web. 1 October 2012 <http://ced.org/component/blog/entry/1/811>.

Image courtesy of www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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