Early Childhood Education and Investment is of paramount concern for the A2Y Chamber. The physiological and mental development a child experiences from ages 0-6 play an out-sized role in shaping the trajectory of his or her life. Promoting development during this period is imperative to maintaining a strong local labor base in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti and to the success of our community.
Why is early childhood education so important for our area?
Giving underserved children the opportunity to receive an education and attain well-paying jobs can be seen as an altruistic goal for the A2Y Chamber.
As a proponent of business, it also makes good economic sense.
The presence of local human capital is a boon for local business. Successful businesses attract other businesses to the area in the form of both competitors and suppliers. Local business competition spawns innovation and growth and it is necessary to have a supply of skilled workers to fill new positions.
Perhaps the most important aspect of early childhood education is that it teaches the “soft skills” necessary for success in the workplace. The long-term effects of learning these skills allows children to understand concepts such as sharing which later turns into the abilities to work with others and to have respect for authority figures. Other important “soft skills” include self-confidence and the ability to be proactive. These skills allow for our local human capital to not only interact with co-workers and customers, but to also have the confidence to move into leadership roles.
Learning these skills early creates a comprehensive effect as preschoolers advance through school and into the workforce. That is, a child who has had early childhood education will be one-step ahead of his or her peers and ready to learn as he or she moves from grade to grade and into the work force. Early childhood education can give under-served children a leg-up in employment as they become part of our local labor base 15-20 years afterwards.
According to the Head Start Research Website, “the preliminary results of a randomly selected longitudinal study of more than 600 Head Start graduates in San Bernardino County, California, showed that society receives nearly $9 in benefits for every $1 invested in these Head Start children. These benefits include increased earnings, employment, and family stability, and decreased welfare dependency, crime costs, grade repetition, and special education.”
Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti are already the bases for successful early childhood education programs. Washtenaw County Head Start operates in Ypsilanti. The Perry Child Development Center, a part of Ypsilanti Public Schools, offers “programs that are uniquely designed to meet the developmental needs of every child.” The Perry School was also the sight of the HighScope organization’s study of the long term benefits of early childhood education.
United Way and PNC Bank are two of our members that provide services and information to parents who want to provide early education for their children. United Way’s Early Learning Communities and PNC Bank’s Grow Up Great both have long term goals to increase opportunities for parents to involve their children with early education.
Our children must have the resources needed in this critical window of time so they are provided with every possible tool for success as adults and members of our community. Additionally, the Chamber believes equally that a post-high school education must be as much a part of the process and a priority for parents and students alike.