Resolutions For New York’s Children

5 Dec

andrew_cuomoSoon it will be time to make New Year’s resolutions for 2013. I’d like to add a resolution to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s list: “I will use my power and influence to make more high quality early education programs available to New York’s young children.”

Back in August, the New NY Education Reform Commission visited Syracuse for one of 11 meetings held around the state to gather input from experts and advocates. Child Care Solutions was part of that discussion, and our message then is the same today: Kids who start behind, stay behind.

Soon the commission will make final recommendations to Cuomo on improving the state’s struggling education system. We join Winning Beginning NY and early childhood supporters around the state in asking the commission to include the following recommendation to the governor: Ensure access to high-quality pre-k and child care for every New York family.

Brain researchhas come a long way in recent years. Today, we know the first years are the most crucial learning period in a child’s life. Indeed, 75 percent of brain development and 85 percent of intellect, personality and social skills develop before a child starts kindergarten. At every level of education, New York state is putting systems in place to measure outcomes and improve learning. It is time that these same rigorous standards also apply to early childhood programs — including both pre-k and child care.

That is why ensuring access and quality of early childhood education must include the expansion of QUALITYstarsNY, the state’s five-star rating program for early childhood programs. Just increasing access to programs isn’t enough — they must be of high quality. The benefits last a lifetime: increased school readiness, better health outcomes, decreased teen pregnancy, and increased rates of high school graduation and college completion.

These benefits aren’t limited to the child and family. They extend to communities, reducing the need for costly remedial education and social programs. And it doesn’t stop there. For every $1 invested in early education, there is a $1.86 return in money spent in that community, making high-quality pre-k and child care programs a sound local economic investment as well.

Given theeconomic climate, we know the commission and the governor face tough choices in every area of education. There are countless needs in reforming our struggling schools — with very little funding. But to make reform efforts successful, New York state should recognize (as many other states and countries already do) that our education system starts at birth.

Next year can be the year that we begin to ensure access and quality of pre-k and child care for every New York state family with young children. It’s a winning strategy that will help children and families, strengthen schools, boost the economy and make sure the Empire State remains competitive for decades to come. Governor: Will it be on your list of resolutions for 2013?

Peggy Liuzzi
Executive Director
Child Care Solutions


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