Monday, April 13, 2009

Preventing Childhood Mental Illness: Starting Early

I didn't make it to the Massachusetts Chapter AAP's Mental Health Task Force meeting last week; I rehearse on Tuesday nights, and we have a concert coming up.  I apparently missed a great presentation from Early Education for All, an advocacy group trying to operationalize our new understanding of childhood neurodevelopment, that most of our brain growth happens early, and that early traumas are the hardest to erase.  They pointed out that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provides an unprecedented opportunity for strategic investments in our state educational system.
Of key importance is investing in evidence-based strategies with proven benefits for children and families. Research demonstrates that high-quality early education improves school readiness and increases academic achievement, thereby lowering educational costs. Low-income children are 40% less likely to need special education or be held back a grade, 30% more likely to graduate from high school, and twice as likely to go to college. These benefits have been shown to carry on into adulthood, and the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank has estimated that high-quality early education produces a 16% return on investment.

April 19-25, the 38th annual Week of the Young Child, marks a wonderful opportunity to share this message. This week-long celebration highlights the importance of families, early childhood professionals, and communities working together to support every child’s healthy development and learning. Please join in celebrating this week by urging Governor Deval Patrick and our state legislators to continue to support high-quality early education and early educators in the FY10 state budget. It’s time to ensure that each and every child gets the start they deserve.
I didn't know that Patriot's Day kicks off the "Week of the Young Child".  In any event, check out their website;  it has much good stuff.

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