Recently The Bellingham Herald reported that the number of children in Washington State enrolled in state programs that provide preschool for low-income children remains too low.
The League of Women Voters of Bellingham/Whatcom County report on Women’s Economic Security in Whatcom County points out what that means to all of us.
In Whatcom County, the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program has funding to serve only 143 children.
Research shows that the years from birth to 5 are critical in the positive development of a child. Nationally, children in need come to school developmentally 18 months behind their peers and they are 25 percent more likely to drop out of school, 40 percent more likely to become a teen parent and 70 percent more likely to get arrested.
If children do not come to school ready to learn, they require extra attention from their teacher. That takes away from time that can be given to other children in the class.
Early childhood education can increase a child’s future adult earnings between 3 percent and 26 percent.
If affordable, quality childcare is not available to women living in poverty then they may not be able to accept a job that will allow them to work to find a way out of poverty.
This impacts the future economic health of our community.