Preschool – more evidence of benefits

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Preschool – it has very positive effects, not just for children, but for all of us.

Newly released research has documented the long term effects of preschool involvement. Let’s keep this in mind, as we work to improve our communities, build the capacity of our workforce, and overcome significant challenges to effective education of our young people of today.

A research team, headed locally by Professor Arthur Reynolds at the University of Minnesota delivered more results from a long-term study of preschool children in Chicago. They reported on indicators of well-being up to 25 years after preschool attendance for more than 1400 study participants. Evidence established a link between preschool attendance and: higher educational attainment; higher income; better socioeconomic status; and increased health insurance coverage, as well as lower rates of justice-system involvement and less substance abuse.

This work adds to a body of research evidence that suggests the value of preschool for promoting educational attainment and improving social development among young people. It also offers evidence of the cost/benefit of preschool. As the Pioneer Press reported, “The average cost per child for 18 months of preschool is $9,000, but Reynolds’ cost-benefit analysis suggests that leads to at least $90,000 in benefits per child…”

Unfortunately, at present, nothing ensures that all children will take part in preschool education, and even if they do, nothing ensures that it will have the necessary quality to produce the strong effects noted in the research.

At Wilder Research, we have a number of initiatives addressing early childhood; we work in collaboration with many colleagues who want to promote the use of the most effective (and cost/beneficial) approaches to improving the early education of young children. We hope that our work will increase awareness and help to guide policy choices that will promote high quality early education. Even if we can’t increase resources for our youngest community members, we can use those resources in ways that will maximize positive impacts.

Our insightful friend, the economist Art Rolnick, has noted that investment in human capital must occur in order for economic development to occur, and that high quality preschool education may perhaps constitute the most impactful investment in human capital that we can make.

Stay in touch; let me know your thoughts….