This morning, I had the great opportunity to address the Lewis County Head Start teachers and staff at Reliable Enterprises. These are some amazing people in our community working to end the cycle of poverty and prepare children for success in school.
Head Start is a federally funded comprehensive program providing services in the areas of Education & Early Childhood Development, Child Health & Development, and Family Services for income eligible families of preschool age children. Reliable Enterprises is the Grantee Agency for Lewis County Head Start.
I just wanted to start by saying THANK YOU. Thank you for everything Head Start does for our community and in our community. I guarantee they don’t hear it enough.
We know, and we have known for a very long time, that approximately 85% of the human brain is developed by 3 years old, yet investment in education is focused on K-12. Children with early childhood learning and pre-school education are better prepared for kindergarten, have higher graduation rates and the impact has positive ripple effects even into adulthood.
The thought process Today, and for generations has been, to fix the “perceived” problem now. Instant gratification. Instant headlines. In reality, you can’t fix poverty, homelessness, education by addressing only the issue you see today. This is a long-term battle that can only be won by addressing the needs of children before they enter school.
If we start investing, and I mean really investing in early education programs like Head Start, the results, the headlines, the statistics may not bear the fruits of our labor, your labor for 10 years. That is why it is important to start now.
In Lewis County, 17% of families live in poverty. And, 50% of families are living in poverty or one tragedy or traumatic experience away from poverty. This means more than 1 in 17 Children under the age of 6 is homeless OR approximately 3 children in each Head Start classroom is likely homeless.
Children are innocent. We cannot blame them for their situation. It is not their fault. All we can do is give them opportunities.
And when they come of age, we hope they took the opportunities. I am opposed to meaningless government programs and a culture of reliance on the government. Early learning programs are not freebies, they are investments and opportunities for the children, they are opportunities for the families and parents. By adopting a plan of #EarlyIdentifcation #EarlyIntervention #EarlyLearning, our schools and communities could be much better at reducing poverty and setting the next generation up for success.
Now, not everyone is convinced by the altruistic approach. Here is the fiscal side of the coin of a strong efficient early learning program. Children enrolled in early learning programs have:
- Increased Graduation Rates, which means the creation of productive workers and more contributors to the tax system;
- Increased adult income earning capacity, which means less poverty;
- Increased rate of home ownership, which means stronger neighborhoods and families;
- Decreasing adult dependency on government programs, which means smaller government and less taxes; and
- Reducing Crime rates, which means smaller government, less taxes, and safer streets.
There are reasons to support early learning programs from many different angles. I was very proud and honored to join the Lewis County Head Start this morning and talk about how much my family and my community appreciates their tireless work!
In case of questions, please contact: Lewis County Head Start Coordinator: Dallas Smith; Telephone Number: 360-736-1696.
Telebraille: 1-800-833-6385 FREE