Georgia study finds quality day care important to economy

MACON, Ga. — At first, day care quality may seem irrelevant to those without young children. But a growing understanding of early brain development, and its role in later life success, is helping the issue gain traction from the classroom to the boardroom.

The National Research Council has found that 90 percent of brain development occurs before the age of five — that is before public school begins. Studies lasting decades show that children with high-quality day care and preschool experiences are more likely to do well in school, graduate and stay out of jail.

The appeal of creating a higher quality work force and saving tax dollars over time appeals to some business leaders.

"There are a number of states around the U.S. where the business community was leading this work," said Milton Little, the president of United Way of Metro Atlanta. "That wasn't the case here."

So United Way created an Early Education Commission, co-chaired by the president of Spelman College in Atlanta and the CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, which made a series of recommendations this spring for improving early childhood learning in the state.

The commission’s report concluded: "The future of Georgia's children, workforce and economic vitality is in peril if we do not act now to bring strong leadership and increase investment to increase access to high-quality child care and education."

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