What if the cure for cancer is trapped in the mind of a child who can’t afford a high-quality education?
Even though studies show majority of our brain development happens before the age of 5, very little funding goes towards this stage of life. * Even though a child’s earliest experiences are most important to well-being, we leave a child’s earliest experiences to chance.
Councilwoman Rudiak believes that “a Pittsburgh child’s access to high-quality early-childhood education should not be an accident of birth. It should be available and affordable for all Pittsburgh children.” **
Child care in Pittsburgh can cost the same as a college education, but we rarely think of it in the same way. In a time of stagnant wages and rising inflation, it’s time that we recognize the struggles that cash-strapped families face to provide a high-quality education for their children.
Last year the City Council Women’s Caucus (Councilwomen Rudiak, Gross, Kail-Smith and Harris) introduced legislation to do a “child care needs assessment,” to find out what child care exists and what providers need to raise their quality of care.
Now we’re ready for the next step.
On Monday, December 21st, 2015, Councilwoman Rudiak and the Women’s Caucus sponsored legislation that was passed unanimously by the City Council of Pittsburgh to create the Office of Early Childhood for the City of Pittsburgh. Housed in the Mayor’s office, the goals of this office will be to align city services that affect young children. Such services include licensing, workforce development, and health and safety for those who care for our youngest--from birth through early elementary school. Also, included in the 2016 budget, is a position of “Early Childhood Manager” who will be housed in the office.
We want this person to be the point person to do things like connect small business resources to child care providers to expand and grow, and figure out how, like other cities, we can expand affordable pre-school options. We want to support cohesive and continuous high quality care for our smallest citizens, across public, private and nonprofit providers and through both formal and informal settings.
Providing early education is good for families, good for kids, and good for our community. We know that kids who grow up poor and do *not* receive a high-quality early-childhood education are:
25% more likely to drop out of school
50% more likely to be placed in special education
60% less likely to attend college
70% more likely to be arrested for a violent crime.
Quality early childhood programming has benefits for parents, employers, and the state economy as well.
Families of children with high-quality care experience stable employment and higher earnings. Child care helps keep low income families working.
For employers, high-quality child care makes employees more reliable and productive, decreasing turnover and absenteeism, and increasing retention and productivity.
And for Pennsylvania, every $1 invested in child care results in $2.17 circulating in the economy as a result of increased employment, consumer spending, and tax revenue. That’s more than doubling our money!
As we envision the next chapter of our city’s prosperity, city leaders are working together on high-quality early-childhood investments that will help all children realize their full potential while providing enormous long-term benefits to society.
* Natalia Rudiak, “Pittsburgh’s Pre-K Promise,” 2/23/2014, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Op-Ed, http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/Op-Ed/2014/02/23/lt-div-class-libPageBodyLinebreak-gt-Pittsburgh-s-pre-K-promise-lt-br-gt-lt-div-gt/stories/201402230006