Are We Crazy About Our Kids?
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Science shows that a child’s experiences during the early years are vital to building the foundation for future success – in school and in life. Now economists are studying the costs and benefits of high-quality early care and preschool. And they’re worried—not because we’re spending too much but because we’re investing too little where it matters most.
Are We Crazy About Our Kids? brings to life the classic studies of Perry Preschool, Abcedarian and other initiatives conducted by Nobel Laureate James Heckman, former Federal Reserve economist Arthur Rolnick and others demonstrating how high-quality early care and preschool yield huge personal and social benefits—and pay for themselves many times over.
The film also travels to Quebec which rolled out a novel jobs and anti-poverty program: they introduced universal early care and pre-K for $7 a day, along with expanded paid parental leave and other family supports. Quebec child poverty rates fell from the highest in Canada to the lowest.
Back here in the U.S., childcare remains largely haphazard, unregulated and unaffordable for most. In California, cemeteries are inspected more often than child care centers, while the cost of center-based childcare often runs more than $10,000 a year.
But pilot early education programs continue. A preschool initiative in Salt Lake City has closed the achievement gap between rich and poor, reversing a 30-year national trend.
High-quality childcare and preschool are just one part of the solution. But economists are clear about the equation: our system is paying for failure rather than investing for success.
The question is, What will we do about it? How crazy are we about our kids?