Early childhood education is vitalPublished 1:00am Sunday, April 17, 2011
This past week was the Week of the Young Child. Hopefully, you participated in or saw some of the wonderful events taking place throughout the week.
On Monday, pinwheel gardens were planted to show awareness and symbolize child maltreatment. On Tuesday, various child care facilities hosted breakfasts to thank caretakers, parents and relatives of young children. On Wednesday, more than 50 people came together for the Children’s Summit to discuss important issues regarding our children. On Thursday, children dressed in their pajamas and listened as a new book was read to them. The book was provided by Child Connections. On Friday, there was a children’s parade through downtown Washington, followed by festivities at Festival Park.
The week of the Young Child takes place nationally, and our own Beaufort/Hyde Partnership for Children plans the local events.
Early childhood education is important to our community. No one can argue that the family unit does not play an important role in children’s education. However, early childhood education also is our community’s business. You have to have quality early childhood care and education facilities to allow parents to work and contribute to the area economy. In North Carolina, 59 percent of all children under age 6 live in families where all parents work, and each year, early childhood learning programs allow 380,000 parents in our state to work. Statistics show that if children enter kindergarten behind academically, it costs extra to bring them to a proficient level. A study by The Annie E. Casey Foundation found that students who don’t read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely than proficient readers to leave school without a diploma. This means early childhood education is crucial to the success of each student.
The child care industry is a thriving part of Beaufort County’s economy, with more than 47 licensed facilities that employ our residents and provide a place for our children from birth to age 5 to learn. The future work force for Beaufort County starts here. Every step of that child’s life and education plays a role in the outcome of his or her future. It does take a village to raise a child and a community to ensure that services and education are there for that child.
We, the chamber, applaud all the efforts our local organizations are doing to ensure that quality early childhood education is available to our future work force. Every child deserves the best for his or her future, and that future starts from the moment he or she is born. If you know someone who works with children of any age, give them a special “thanks” for all they do to ensure the future success of our children and work force. They deserve it.
Catherine M. Glover is executive director of the Washington/Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce.