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Education

Innovative states and communities have been able to design high quality programs for children. These programs have solved problems in early childhood development and shown significant long-term improvements for children-but many places still don’t have access to these innovations.

The basic architecture of the human brain is constructed through an ongoing process that begins before birth and continues into adulthood. When you are building a house, you go step by step, beginning with a strong foundation. Just like a house, a strong foundation in children’s early years increases the probability of positive outcomes. A weak foundation increases the odds of later difficulties.

Children’s ability to focus and pay attention, or executive function, is like Air Traffic Control at a busy airport. Some planes have to land and others have to take off at the same time, but there’s only so much room on the ground and in the air. Executive function regulates the flow of information and the focus of tasks, creates mental priorities and avoids collisions, and keeps the system flexible and on time. In children, this mechanism needs to be actively geared up as early as possible.

The Children’s Movement of Florida advocates for state funds to be invested in early learning initiatives, like the Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) program, that help lay a strong foundation for children’s brains so that their executive functions can develop seamlessly, and children are ready to tackle complex tasks when they enter school.

The Facts

  • Florida ranks 42nd out of 50 states in pupil funding, but has the highest levels of 4-year-olds enrolled in public Pre-K programs in the nation. Florida allocates roughly half the national average of per-pupil funding to Pre-K programs.
  • Expanding early learning initiatives would provide benefits to society of roughly $8.60 for every $1 spent, about half of which comes from increased earnings for children when they grow up, according to a recent analysis by the President’s Council of Economic Advisers.

What We Propose

  • Floridians recognized the value of early investment when they voted for VPK in 2002. To fulfill the promise of that decision, the state must increase funding for VPK so we are no longer spending half of the national average for per-student spending.
  • The accountability system must be revised: With strong measures to evaluate efficiency, we can ensure children achieve the same positive outcomes in the same amount of hours, no matter where they attend VPK.

Resources

  1. The Lifecycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program – The Heckman Equation. Research summary that discusses the social, economic, health, and educational benefits of Early Childhood Programs.
  2. The State of Preschool 2017 – Florida’s State Preschool Yearbook – National Institute for Early Education Research. Gives a brief overview about the current state of Florida’s VPK program along with its strengths and weaknesses.
  3. The Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Pre-Kindergarten Effects – Brookings Institution. A study that discusses the current state of Early Childhood programs across the county and the importance of high quality programs.
  4. Florida’s Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program: An Overview of the Largest State Pre-School Program in the Nation – University of Virginia EdPolicyWorks. Discusses the history of the Florida’s VPK program along with some
  5. Graduates of Early Childhood Program Show Greater Educational Gains as Adults – National Institutes of Health. This news release from the NIH talks about how the benefits of an Early Childhood program go beyond giving a child a head start in their elementary school years.

Disclaimer: These links to third-party websites are provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. They do not constitute an endorsement or approval by The Children’s Movement of Florida or its affiliate organizations and partners.