Early childhood education and care has been shown to poll particularly well across a broad spectrum of voters. In a 2014 poll, 71% of voters, including 60% of Republicans, supporting increased investment in the early years. What was once viewed as the personal concern of individual families is now regarded as an issue of national importance. A recent article in The New Republic put it this way: Child Care Isn’t Just a Personal Problem. It’s an Economic One, Too. Researchers and advocates have long touted statistics on the benefit to children and families of investment in early childhood education, but there is a strong case that state investment in the early years contribute to economic growth and a strong, competitive state economy.
In a new ICS paper, I quantify the bottom line economic impacts of child care and education policies in South Carolina. Early care and education affects the state economy in a wide variety of ways: creating jobs, supporting employment in other sectors, attracting outside investment, and saving the public sector millions in reduced costs for remedial education, welfare dependency and crime. The results are clear: early childhood is a key investment for South Carolina, one that can contribute to greater economic development both today and in the future.
Some key findings:
In an accompanying paper, I also explore financing strategies ranging from utilizing existing funding streams to closing tax loopholes. The goal of this paper is not to endorse any particular approach but rather to provide a menu of options to consider. Some of these options entail viewing ECE from new or non-traditional perspectives: as critical infrastructure, economic development, preventative health care, and the underpinning of a successful K-12 education system.