An Investment in our Kids is an Investment in our Economic Vitality
By Heather Matthews, Family Health Division Manager, Boulder County Public Health
Investment in early childhood development is an important key to the success of Colorado’s economy. It benefits individual businesses near-term and strengthens the business economy long-term.
Neuroscience research tells us that 90 percent of brain development happens by age 5. By investing in our children early, we lay the foundation for healthy, educated, productive citizens for a lifetime. And we have the ROI to prove it. University of Chicago economics professor and Nobel laureate James Heckman suggests a rate of return for investing in quality early childhood education of 7-10% per annum from improved outcomes in education, health, sociability, economic productivity, and reduced crime.
Many children, however, come from families that don’t have the time, knowledge, or money to support their child’s development as fully as they would like to. As a result, these children arrive at kindergarten already behind — and too many aren’t able to catch up.
Making sure that all children have the support and stability they need is a win-win proposition. We can counteract negative impacts on children, save money on special education and remediation costs, increase graduation rates, improve health, and create a more productive workforce in just 18 short years. We can also increase productivity and focus, and decrease absenteeism among parents in the workforce.
The Boulder Chamber is participating in the Boulder County “Raising of America” Partnership, a group committed to engaging the community in support of families and young children. Chamber President and CEO John Tayer says, “We are focused on many ways to develop Boulder County’s workforce for success in the 21st-century economy. It makes good business sense, as well as good social sense, to help tomorrow’s workers build the fundamental literacy and education foundation at an early age.”
So, how can individual businesses and businesspersons invest in early childhood development and support families? Here are a few suggestions:
- Support local and state initiatives, along with the Boulder Chamber, to invest in early childhood development, such as home visitation programs, preschool, and high-quality early education.
- When possible, provide flexible hours and flexible workplace arrangements so parents can attend school functions, support their children’s education, or take their children for doctors’ checkups.
- Provide private space in the workplace where women can express breastmilk after returning to work. Breastmilk keeps kids healthier because they receive immune support from their mothers, and this can help to reduce absenteeism.
- Organize a corporate volunteer program.
- Find more ideas on supporting early childhood development in the workplace by taking advantage of Executives Partnering to Invest in Children’s (EPIC) Early Childhood Development Toolkit for Employers (http://www.epicemployertoolkit.org/).