Investments in Quality Early Childhood Development within the “Grand Bargain” Would Reduce Debt and Strengthen the Economy
First Five Years Fund Urges Lawmakers to Seize Investment Opportunity

At a time when Washington seeks solutions to the fiscal cliff, investing in quality early childhood development is the way to accomplish both goals of reducing the debt in a balanced way and strengthening the economy in the short and long term.

Data from economists, social scientists and medical experts conclusively show that comprehensive early childhood development—from birth to age five—particularly for disadvantaged children and their families yields substantial returns in higher educational attainment, improved health outcomes and economic prosperity. This includes research conducted by Nobel Prize-winning University of Chicago Economics Professor James Heckman which shows that every dollar invested in early childhood development produces a 7-10 percent return—per child, per year—in reduced social spending and increased productivity.

Right now Congress has an opportunity to be smart about building a more prosperous future, said Kris Perry, executive director of the First Five Years Fund. “If lawmakers are wise, we can both save and invest dollars for better returns. Protecting and investing in the critical infrastructure that programs such as Head Start and Child Care provide can facilitate parents’ employment, save special education costs and improve educational outcomes, while building a more productive workforce and stronger economy.”

Today 25 percent of children under age 5 live in poverty, including 43 percent of black children and 36 percent of Latino children. These kids face a human cliff, a drop off in achievement caused by gaps in early childhood development. As a result, many children enter kindergarten with deficits in foundational skills and capabilities that hamper their ability to be successful in school and make later contributions to our economy and society.

As Congress works to negotiate the “Grand Bargain,” FFYF urges legislators to invest in quality early childhood development. More information about the return on investment in early childhood development can be found here.