What We Know
85% of the human brain develops in the first five years of life. That’s a fact that cannot be ignored.
It’s tempting to reduce funding for early childhood development because of economic challenges.
Investment in early childhood education and care is a sound investment and a key component of an economic recovery strategy.
Even in today’s belt-tightening times, it is imperative to fund comprehensive, inclusive, ECD programs so we don’t shortchange our children. Top economists agree that investment in children in the early years is among the best investments we can make in our communities and in our country. Human capital is the currency of tomorrow and we must invest now.
We either pay now or pay (much more) later. Investment in ECD pays big returns. It is estimated that $6.17 is returned to society for every dollar spent on PreK alone. That’s over $15,000 per child. Savings on crime and welfare costs, and expansion of personal earnings.
If we don’t invest in our youngest New Mexicans now, we will continue to pay a big price. Instead of financing PreK, parent support and home visitation programs, we will pour money into prisons and welfare programs. Instead of helping to build our state’s economic future, we will expand poverty and create future drains on an already stressed criminal justice system. Instead of building the workforce of the future that propels our state, we will guarantee our place at the bottom of the productivity heap. The state’s dropout rate is among the worst in the nation. With a 70.3% graduation rate it is no wonder that we continue to suffer economically. An ill-prepared child entering Kindergarten today will fall behind quickly, beginning on a predictable path to failure. Invest now or pay later. The choice is clear.
- 6.9% of New Mexico's population (about 143,764) is under age five
- 31% of New Mexico's children live at or below the federal poverty level, an annual income of $23,550 for a family of four
- 62% of New Mexico’s children ages 3 and 4 are not attending pre-school
- Many children in New Mexico enter kindergarten without important pre-literacy skills
- 79% of New Mexico’s fourth graders are not proficient in reading
- 33% of New Mexico’s high school students do not graduate in four years