The Scope and Need for Early Childhood Education

...You have undoubtedly seen the recent newspaper headlines and national magazine covers that have directed a spotlight on child care. Much of their focus has been on changes in family life that have brought about the need for child care outside of the home...

By Eva L. Essa from Introduction to Early Childhood Education,
4th Edition, Delmar Learning, 2003

The need for child care among working parents makes early childhood education a topic of national prominence, but this is not the only reason for its increasing importance.  On a parallel though separate track, there has been extensive discussion and research about the benefits of early education for special populations of children and families.  Thus, children from low-income families, children with disabilities, and children at risk for other reasons have been enrolled in publicly-funded programs.  Since the mid-1960’s federal, state, and local support has increased as a result of mounting evidence that high-quality early childhood programs can and do make a long-term difference that carries into adulthood.  Researchers have concluded that good early childhood programs not only improve the lives of the children and families involved but also result in substantial economic benefits for society.  Although early intervention programs are expensive, their cost is more than recovered in subsequent years through greater schooling success, decreased need for special education, lowered delinquency and arrest rates, and decreased welfare dependence (Barnett, 1996; Schweinhart & Weikart, 1997).

By Eva L. Essa from Introduction to Early Childhood Education, 4th Edition, Delmar Learning, 2003

The Benefits of Early Childhood Education

The demand for early childhood care and education programs continues to increase not only in response to the growing demand for out-of-home child care but also in recognition of the critical importance of educational experiences during the early years. Several decades of research clearly demonstrate that high-quality, developmentally appropriate early childhood programs produce short- and long-term positive effects on children's cognitive and social development (NAEYC).

A Call for Excellence in Early Childhood Education

One well-known study, the HighScope Perry Preschool Study, found that individuals who were enrolled in a quality preschool program ultimately earned up to $2,000 more per month than those who were not. Young people who were in preschool programs are more likely to graduate from high school, to own homes, and have longer marriages.

Long-Term Benefits of Early Childhood Education

Expanding access to high quality early childhood education is among the smartest investments that we can make. Research has shown that the early years in a child’s life—when the human brain is forming—represent a critically important window of opportunity to develop a child’s full potential and shape key academic, social, and cognitive skills that determine a child’s success in school and in life.

Obama Administration

What the White House Says?

  Health Benefits:

“Studies demonstrate that HS and EHS improve the health of the children and families they serve. Recent research reports that the mortality rates for 5- to 9-year-old children who had attended Head Start are 33 to 50 percent lower than the rates for comparable children who were not enrolled in Head Start.”

  Law Enforcement Benefits:

​"HS benefits its children and society-at-large by reducing crime and its costs to crime victims. HS children are significantly less likely to have been charged with a crime than their siblings who did not participate in HS."

  Educational Benefits:

“…data shows that HS graduates, by the spring of their kindergarten year, were essentially at national norms in early reading and early writing and were close to meeting national norms in early math and vocabulary knowledge.”

  Economic Benefits:

“These benefits include increased earnings, employment, and family stability, and decreased welfare dependency, crime costs, grade repetition, and special education.”

The federal government's historical commitment to sponsor and encourage research and evaluations in Head Start and Early Head Start programs has generated a large corpus of research. This research reveals that Head Start and Early Head Start programs provide the following benefits:      -

The Great Benefits of Early Education