IssuesPA

June 1 2007

Research shows, among other benefits of early learning, increased earning power for parents. The community at large benefits in several ways, including a direct and indirect economic impact and decreased spending on public programs, including education and social services.

Many children in Pennsylvania are involved in early learning opportunities at home, but with so many children spending most of the day in non-parental care, many children do not have access to quality learning environments. The National Survey of America’s Families verified that 82 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds with employed mothers spend part of their day in nonparental care. Of these children, about two-thirds attend some form of early learning program. 

More than 60% of mothers with children under the age of 3 were in the workforce in 2000, compared to 34% some 25 years before. According to data from the Packard Foundation, women comprise nearly half the workforce, compared to less than 30% in 1950, and as more mothers work outside the home, the availability of quality early learning programs becomes a more important issue for children, parents, employers, and indeed, the entire community.

Research shows that nearly one-quarter of work absences are due to problems with child care. The availability of quality child care and early learning programs therefore should be an important issue to employers as well as families. Available, affordable early learning programs are a selling point to attract new business, keep existing business, and expand employment. The research includes examples of investors targeting early learning and child care programs as part of an overall economic development strategy because quality early learning programs make regions more attractive to working families and business growth.

Related Resources:

Investing in our Children: What We Know and Don’t Know About the Costs and Benefits of Early Childhood Interventions. RAND (1998)

The research institution uses available research to answer two important questions regarding early learning: Do early interventions targeted at disadvantaged children benefit participating children and families? And might government funds invested early in the lives of some children result in compensating decreases in government expenditures?

Who’s Caring for Our Youngest Children? National Survey of America’s Families. The Urban Institute. (2002)

The National Survey of America’s Families 2002 reported that that 82 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds with employed mothers spend part of their day in nonparental care. Of these children, about two-thirds attend some form of early learning program. 

Overlooked Benefits of Prekindergarten. Karen Schulman.  NIEER Policy Report (2005)

Many studies describe the benefits to children, including improved academic outcomes, improved self esteem and more. This study takes a look at other benefits derived from early learning, including the increased earning power for the family and improved parenting.

Quality of Prekindergarten: What families are looking for in public sponsored programs.Barbarin, Oscar; Mccandies, Terry; Early, Diane, Clifford, Richard; Bryant, Donna; & Burchinal, Margaret.   Early Education and Development, 17(4), 619-642. (2006)

This study describes the meaning of program quality for a representative group of parents of children enrolled in public prekindergarten programs and illuminates potential differences in how parents, educators and policymakers interpret program quality as well as similarities.