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Help Every Child Get a Great Start
Children are our best hope for the future and our most valuable resource. But as a society, we are not making the investments we should be, especially when it comes to children of color. We will all benefit when every child gets a great start. Why?
Decades of research has revealed how babies’ brains develop and why the early years (0-3) are so incredibly important.
There's an incredible return on investment. Economists have demonstrated anywhere from $7 to $15 saved for every dollar spent on quality early childhood education.
We don’t want child care to be the beginning of the school to prison pipeline for kids of color.
Quality early education programs make it so parents are more able to work and children get a great start. It is a win for families, communities, and our whole state.
Candidates running for public office in Wisconsin should prioritize children of color, who are underserved by our systems of education and child care. They can’t vote, so as adults we have to speak for them.
Specifically, we urge candidates to:
Eliminate Disparities in YoungStar. Kids Forward's analysis of Wisconsin’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (YoungStar) shows significant disparities in access to high quality (4 and 5 Star) programs for low-income African American kids. The entire system needs an influx of funding, but particular attention needs to be paid to this issue. Currently there is a least one zip code in Milwaukee that has no 4/5 star providers.
Support the Child Care Workforce. Wisconsin’s child care teachers are severely underpaid, averaging barely $10 per hour statewide. Many of these providers are people of color and/or serve children of color. Parents cannot afford to pay more for child care, so we have to make this a public priority in ensure the best hope for the future.
Help Kids Grow Up Healthy. Kids of color need access to quality, affordable health care, as well as access to culturally appropriate activities and nutrition. Gardening, outdoor play, reduced screen time, healthy eating, breastfeeding, and limiting sugary drinks are all strategies promoted in child care programs throughout Wisconsin. These child care programs need to be more accessible for all kids, especially kids of color. If kids can build healthy habits early, they are more likely to keep them, improving their quality of life in the future.
Give Children Experiencing Trauma the Help They Need. Recent research shows us that kids experiencing adverse circumstances such as domestic violence, abuse or neglect have lifelong negative outcomes. This trauma is exacerbated by poverty and racism. Fortunately, in Wisconsin, there are trained experts who can help, but there are far too few of them and far too little funding goes toward childhood mental health.
Expand Successful Home Visiting Programs. There are proven, evidence-based models that help kids and families in their home environment. Studies have shown that home visiting can help reduce drug misuse, child abuse, and neglect, as well as improve birth outcomes, school readiness, and child health. Unfortunately, home visiting only reaches a small fraction of Wisconsin’s families that need it.
Quality early childhood education for all children, especially for families and communities of color, must be a priority for voters and candidates running for public office. Everyone must play a part in making Wisconsin the best place for every child, every family, and every community.