By: Shannon Jones, Groundwork Ohio President and CEO Access article
Businesses can’t find and keep enough employees. Parents with young children are struggling to balance work and family amid a pandemic. Too many children are starting kindergarten woefully behind, leading to a lifetime of problems — first in school, then on the job and in life.
To recover from the pandemic recession and compete in a 21st-century economy, we must invest in programs that support the workforce of today while preparing the workforce of tomorrow. At a time when child care has become one of the top barriers to families returning to work and Ohio’s youngest children are not ready for school, quality child care is an essential investment in our children, families and economy.
If you follow the brain science, you know learning starts well before kindergarten. From birth to age 5, a child’s brain develops faster than at any other time in their life. Before a child enters kindergarten, their brain is already 90% developed.
Yet policymakers have long overlooked the importance of early childhood education, especially for Ohio’s most vulnerable children. The consequences of this failure are clear: Only 41% of Ohio children start kindergarten ready to learn. Fewer than 24% of Black students and fewer than 27% of all students experiencing poverty in Ohio are ready for kindergarten.