By Anna Bahney
Research shows quality early childhood education has significant positive impacts on the education, employment, and health outcomes later in life. A new report highlights these findings within the Latino community and again demonstrates that there is tremendous economic power in the public investment in early childhood education.
The report shows that public pre-K programs and subsidized center-based child care for low-income Latino children has positive effects on their kindergarten readiness and their academic achievement and their ability to learn through third grade.
Hispanic children currently make up roughly one in four of all children in the United States, and by 2050 are projected to make up one in three – similar to the number of non-Hispanic, white children. How this growing segment of the population fares as the rise through the educational system is an important indicator of our future workforce.
The report, which studied children in the publicly funded preschool programs in Miami and was produced by the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families, found that the children from the program entered kindergarten with scores above national averages in the areas of pre-academic and social-behavioral skills. These skills were also higher than peers who had been in center-based care.
The preschool enrollment of Latino children remains relatively low. Less than half attend some form of preschool immediately prior to kindergarten entry. Latino children often enter school less ready to learn than do their non-Latino white classmates and, according to the study, this pattern seems to hold true regardless of the level of English fluency in their homes.
“Early child care and education are critical in closing the school readiness gap between young Latino students and their non-Latino white counterparts,” explained the report authors. “By analyzing academic performance from kindergarten through third grade, we were able to highlight the long-term benefits realized from participation in early child care and education programs at age four.”