From the moment a child is born, the learning begins. By
kindergarten, gaps in skills and knowledge for some children have
set in that can last a lifetime.
Over the past two decades, a growing body of
research has helped bring the importance of the early years
into greater focus. High-quality early childhood education and
care are increasingly considered critical levers in
supporting children’s development, school readiness, and
long-term life outcomes. At the same time, adverse childhood
experiences have been shown to have long-lasting consequences on
learning and behavior as well as on physical and mental health.
The field of early childhood education faces a host of
challenges: Funding is fragmented, access and quality are uneven,
and services to the youngest children are limited. Worker pay is
so low that about
half of child care workers are on public assistance, research
has found, while costs make early care and education unaffordable
for some parents.