One in four kindergartners come from low-income families and enter school not fully ready to learn, a report from the Pritzker Children's Initiative of the and the finds.
The report, (67 pages, PDF), estimates that nearly half the twelve million low-income children under the age of 5 nationwide are at risk of not being fully ready for kindergarten when they enter and of falling behind from the start. According to the study, children who start kindergarten ready for school have an 82 percent chance of mastering basic skills by the age of 11, compared with 45 percent for kindergartners who are not school-ready. Targeted preventive investments in high-quality early childhood programs can help bolster kindergarten readiness and build the cognitive and character skills that children need to do well in school and in life, the report argues, in turn reducing the need for costly remediation. However, the United States vastly underinvests in early childhood education, especially in the critical period from pregnancy to age 3.
The guide outlines public and philanthropic investment opportunities in five areas: strengthening state and local systems of early care and education to ensure continuous quality improvements; scaling health and developmental screenings to enable families to optimize their children's holistic development; improving the training, continuing education, professional development, and compensation of early childhood educators; expanding access to high-quality evidence-based programs that help families foster their children's development; and promoting and sharing program innovation and improvement, especially those that support parents and informal caregivers.
"This paper crystalizes an overwhelming body of cognitive and education research and points to those specific, evidence-based early childhood investment opportunities that give young children the skills they need to succeed, improving not only their academic and life trajectories, but also the economic future of our nation," said Pritzker Family Foundation president J.B. Pritzker, a co-author of the report. "We hope that this paper serves as a catalyst to significantly expand funding for early childhood opportunities across the country."