Topics in Early Childhood Education

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.


At 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that state officals should put some time in before they put the money out. (Perhaps we'd never see any educational funding then...) We need to see them in the classrooms in public, private, charter, etc. settings. They need to see what is needed. They need to see the concerns early childhood educators have been saying since the beginning of time. Spending a morning or an afternoon in one of these settings won't do it all justice. Across the nation there are a few of those people who have really taken the time to see what a difference early childhood education and funding can make. As early childhood educators we need to diligently and relentlessly sound the war cry. This goes way beyond funding...

At 3:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read a few minutes ago in our CAEYC magazine that California participated (back in November) in the national 'Engaging Leaders in the Preschool Movement' conference. There were several business men/women invited to watch segments of 3 state models filmed in California, Arkansas and Illinois. And then the attendees were able to ask questions of a panel of experts. This was done, in part, to educate those people who are not only business leaders but school board officials, school districts, school readiness programs, resource agencies, college staff, and many others in the nationwide efforts of the making preschool education available to all 3- and 4-year olds. I think this goes along with exactly what Mr. Willcock's was saying and as well as Mr. Funk. Right now the best we can hope for is to begin educating those in our communities who have the most influence with our state and government officials (such as school districts and those who provide early childhood programs) and then hopefully someday down the line, seeing a change in the why that government recognizes the need for these programs and hopefully backs it up with funding. Much applause to CAEYC and those agencies in Arkansas and Illinois who are trying to do this.

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