The data shows that the greatest challenges facing our country – from school dropout rates, to crime, to rising health-care costs, to the necessity of competing in the global marketplace – can only be met by focusing on the development of all our children, beginning at birth.
To the Ounce of Prevention Fund, the “achievement gap” is not a metaphor. It is a social outcome that we can see and measure. Research shows that the achievement gap appears long before children reach kindergarten – in fact, is can become evident as early as nine months of age. And at-risk children who don’t receive a high-quality early childhood education are:
• 25% more likely to drop out of school
• 40% more likely to become a teen parent
• 50% more likely to be placed in special education
• 60% more likely to never attend college
• 70% more likely to be arrested for a violent crime
Early childhood initiatives are the most cost-effective way to ensure the healthy development of children in poverty and offer the greatest returns to society.