Monday, January 23, 2006
Is funding the issue?
Whenever I have spoken with legislators and other government officials, I always get the story that funding is the reason that they do not invest in early childhood services. While I know that money is big part of the equation, I don't think it is the driving reason in many cases. In almost 30 years in the early childhood field, I have seen first-hand that most lawmakers lack the understanding and commitment to really invest in early childhood. It doesn't seem to matter that virtually all research studies indicate that in the long run we will save money by investing in early education. Unfortunately, in my state, there is still the mentality that if they don't fund early childhood services, mothers will be forced to "stay home and care for their own children, which is where they belong". Every year my state fails to qualify for millions of dollars in child care subsidies because they won't fund the matching small percent. While I think it is a richly rewarding experience for a child to be able to stay home with a parent, in 2006 it is an unrealistic expectation for many families. When early childhood services are not funded many children go without good early childhood training and support. Then when the child is in school, everyone cries "foul" because the child can't pass academic tests. Everyone cries even louder when the child can't control his/her behavior long enough to learn and allow others to learn. Everyone, especially lawmakers, need to understand how critical those early years are to the development of the person.