Long-term investing

Child-care critical for economic growth.

By Marsha Basloe

Quality child-care is essential to North Carolina’s economic development.

According to an economic impact study completed in the state last year, parents of the 171,650 children ages up to age five enrolled in full-time, licensed and regulated care earn more than $6.1 billion each year and pay an estimated $1.7 billion in taxes.

Many of these parents are able to pursue gainful employment because affordable, quality care is possible with assistance from the state’s Smart Start and More at Four early-childhood education programs.

While parents guide their children’s development at home, governments bear the primary responsibility for classroom-based education in the U.S.

Privately and publicly funded programs that serve young children and families operate throughout the U.S., such as the Smart Start and More at Four initiatives in North Carolina.

Other states and communities rely on federal programs, such as Head Start.

Despite the struggling economy of the past few years and state budget cuts, North Carolina’s educational funding needs continue to increase greatly.

Funding for these programs is an investment in the state’s economic growth and development, and must be seen as such.

Volumes of research and data now exist to support what we’ve suspected for years: An investment in quality childcare and education is an investment in the state’s economic future.

High-quality care is considered the vital link in creating and maintaining an educated, revenue-generating workforce.

Not only does quality child-care attract business to North Carolina’s skilled workforce, but it also enables future economic success by helping to prepare young children for opportunities in the new economy.

State-funded educational initiatives are not government handouts, although the public often sees them as such because they typically serve low-wealth families.

In taking a closer look, long-term studies prove a positive and measurable outlook for early child-care and education investments.

The short-term view of investing in early childcare and education programs focuses on cost.

The long-term view looks at developing stronger individuals, families and communities.

When we look through the long-term lens, we see the many reasons to work together in support of programs that build our state’s solid foundation through quality education for our youth.

Marsha Basloe is executive director Durham’s Partnership for Children, which administers Durham County’s Smart Start early childhood development program.

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