EARLY EDUCATION - The 3rd Annual Louisiana Early Education Week is underway and to highlight this occasion, there's a special event taking place later this morning at Providence House Child Development Center in Downtown Shreveport. Local business leaders and legislators will come together to gain a better appreciation for high quality early childcare, especially among disadvantaged families. Jennifer Horton is Vice President of Operations and Community Investments with the United Way of Northwest Louisiana, she explains why high-quality early childcare and education is so important.
"These early experiences for children are going to provide foundation for these children for the rest of their life," Horton said. "And we know that 90% of brain function developments within the first four years, and that's why it's so important that we make sure that they are in qualityearly-care early so that we set them up for success."
Providence House is the only homeless shelter in Louisiana with a Type 3 day care facility and is serving as host for this event. It operates a 4-STAR Child Development Center exclusively for homeless and low income children up to 4-years of age, many are from single-parent households. Verni Howard,President of Providence House explains how the services they provide can prevent homelessness.
"We really want to circumvent future homelessness by laying down a really good foundation and framework for children,"said Howard. "So that they have words, language, music, sound, sentences so that they are kindergarten-ready. And if children are more kindergarten-ready, they are more likely to graduate from high school." Early childcare and quality education can result in many positive outcomes for children but there’s an immediate impact for working parents and the companies they work for. The United Way’s Jennifer Horton explains.
"When an employee's child is in a safe place, that employee doesn't have to worry about that child, they're less likely to have to call in," said Horton. "Your mid-term effect is that your children are more successful in school, and in the longterm effect of that is reduced crime and more robust economy later on." The third annual “Louisiana Early Education Week,” has seven events across the state. There’s research that shows for every $1 invested in high quality early care, it yields a $7 return on investment, as children who participate in early care and education programs are less likely to require specialized education , less likely to drop out of High School, and less likely to get caught up in the criminal justice system later in life. But less than 15 percent of families with children under the age of four can access public early care and education funding.