Tag Archives: early childhood development

Daycare is child’s play


For Ted Melhuish, authenticity is tantamount to, well, the genuine plate of Caribbean cuisine he was evidently relishing at a restaurant in downtown Fredericton.

It was early April 2013, and the tempests of a hard Canadian winter had abated just long enough to allow the sun to shine and the mercury to rise above 25 degrees.

He smiled like a kid in a candy store as he stuffed a bit of Jamaican jerk into his mouth. “Oh yeah,” he says. “It’s good. . .It’s very good. . .very original.”

Dr. Edward Melhuish is all about originality, reality, genuineness and authenticity. In a way, one might say, these qualities of mind have been his stocks in trade for more than 30 years. As his University of London (U.K.) biography stipulates, he “is Professor of Human Development at Birkbeck, University of London, and Visiting Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Education, University of London.”

He is also an “internationally recognized expert in the study of child development and childcare (who) has extensive experience with longitudinal studies. He was a Principal Investigator of studies of day care and family life in the 1980s, which had considerable influence on sections of the 1989 Children Act (U.K). He has also conducted research on child development, parenting and childcare in several European countries, on behalf of the European Commission.”

What’s more, “For several years Professor Melhuish has been a Principal Investigator on the Effective Provision of Pre-school Education (EPPE) in England and Effective Provision in Northern Ireland (EPPNI), which are following 4,000 children.”

Finally, “Professor Melhuish has acted as a consultant for the design of children’s organizations (e.g. UNESCO), government departments and film, television and radio companies. In addition he has frequently contributed to the media on children’s issues, including newspaper, radio and television programmes.”

In this context – that of a visiting scholar, educated in all matters related to early childhood education (ECE) – it’s worth noting just how far apart academia and actual practice has become in this province. After all, how many Professor Melhuishes has New Brunswick produced over the past three decades?

Instead, we face a risible crisis in ECE produced by broad ignorance about its benefits, suspicion fanned by federal and provincial governments, which seem to think that wedge-issue politics trumps the welfare of our children, and a calculable lack of expertise in the field.

In fact, a recent investigation by reporters of this newspaper group has found evidence of downright despicable conditions in New Brunswick’s regulated daycare operations: “In one year of visiting (these facilities) inspectors found guns, mouse droppings, lighters left out within children’s reach, and fighting on the playground with no one around to intervene.”

Worse, the report stipulates, you, dear reader, will not “find any details about these problems on the government’s online daycare inspection registry. Until now, violations in publicly licensed daycares have been kept largely secret from the public.”

Whether this secrecy was generated by fiat or general bureaucratic neglect hardly matters.

Nothing in our society should concern us more than the early childhood education of our offspring. After all, our kids will someday rule the planet, and how they govern in the future depends entirely on how we help them think and work and play today.

We have it, within our power, to create builders or destroyers, peacemakers or warmongers, physicians or psychopaths.

It is, as Professor Melhuish says, entirely up to us.

Shall we order in educational take-out tonight?

Or shall we make a good meal from a delicious pairing of ingredients in our own authentic land?

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No teen left behind


Out of the goodness of its vote-conscious heart, the federal Conservative government has made child care a sturdy plank in its election platform this year. Noting that mum and dad are the “real experts” in raising a rug rat, the Tories have enhanced the Universal Child Care Benefit and Child Care Expense Deduction in 2015.

But what, in fact, does this mean?

In a report, released on Wednesday, Parliamentary Budget Officer Jean-Denis Frechette, explains that “the value of child care benefits grew from $0.6 billion in 2004-2005 to approximately $3.3 billion in 2013- 2014. This amounted to three-fifths (59 per cent) of what Canadian families were spending on child care in 2013-2014.”

What’s more, he added, “Families with young children (less than 13 years of age) spending money on child care received two-thirds (66 per cent) of these benefits. The remaining 34 per cent was distributed to families with no child care expenses and families with older children. As a share of households’ aggregate child care expenses, federal benefits represented roughly 42 per cent and 247 per cent, respectively.”

Now, Mr. Frechette finds, following the government’s so-called improvements to the programs, “if Parliament approves. . .PBO estimates the fiscal impact of federal child care policies will increase to roughly $7.7 billion from the 2013-2014 value of $3.3 billion. By 2017-2018, it will grow to roughly $7.9 billion.”

Fair enough, perhaps. But here’s the kicker, says the PBO:

“These proposals would also change the allocation of benefits. In 2015, 49 per cent of these benefits would go to families with child care expenses and young children, and the remaining 51 per cent to families with no child care expenses and families with older children. Since families with young children spend more on child care, their share will only cover 67 per cent of the amount they will spend on child care. Conversely, benefits that families with older children will receive from the government in 2015-2016 will represent nearly eight times the amount they will spend on child care.”

So, while millions of Canadian families that might legitimately need some federal help to defray the costs of raising their pre-adolescents, millions more that don’t are getting a free ride on the taxpayers’ dime.

This, of course, makes perfect sense – but only in an election year. Under any other circumstance it’s a travesty of sound, sensitive and useful public policy.

None of which actually addresses the larger issue, which is: In what sober version of reality do the benefit and expense deduction, which transfer, at most, a couple of thousand dollars a year, per kid, to families’ household budgets, constitute rational social policy when the annual cost of effective, professionally delivered child care can, and does, runs 14 or 15 times the current federal contribution?

Seven or eight billion dollars would go a long way towards inaugurating a universal system of affordable (to families) early childhood education and pre-school programs. It’s certainly not brain surgery. No one is asking the feds to reinvent the wheel. Apart from the United States, effective models of this sort of thinking exist productively and happily across the developed world – even here in Canada, where Quebec’s $9-dollar-a-day child-care system has both enhanced educational outcomes and reduced systemic rates of poverty in that province. The more kids enrolled in such programs, the more mums and dads provide for their families’ material needs.

Of course, that’s a hard sell, especially as political campaigners begin to beat the drums loudly.

After all, 14-year-old junior needs his Xbox.

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Let’s get serious about early childhood education


If the federal government is truly concerned about the welfare of women and children, then it should rethink its social policies before it pours good money after bad.

The current thinking in Harpertown posits a minefield of ideological presuppositions that is as breathtaking in its scope as it is in its peril: That young children benefit only when mum is chained to a doorknob in her kitchen; that women find their best, truest selves only when raising a brood with Captain Canada’s monthly cheques (about enough to cover the cost of novice hockey-league membership); that dad should, but should not necessarily be forced to, engage in raising the children he sired in the first place.

Did I say “Harpertown”? Let’s properly call it “Pleasantville”.

Pleasantville is now spending tax dollars to hike the children’s fitness tax credit; arrange for income-splitting among worthy, affluent families; and double down on the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) for children under age six, to wit:

“As of January 1, 2015, parents will receive a benefit of $160 per month for each child under the age of six up from $100 per month. In a year, parents will receive up to $1,920 per child.”

That notice comes directly from the Canada Revenue Agency, by way of the Prime Minister’s Office. What it doesn’t bother to mention is that these election goodies will cost, all tallied, upwards of $7 billion a year – just about as much as a truly scientific, comprehensive, empirically designed program of national, government-subsidized early childhood education.

In a 2013 syllabus on the broad effects of early-years instruction, TD Bank Group’s senior vice president and chief economist Craig Alexander had this to say: “There is a great deal of evidence showing overwhelming benefits of high quality, early childhood education. For parents, access to quality and affordable programs can help to foster greater labour force participation. But more importantly, for children, greater essential skills development makes it more likely that children will complete high school, go on to post‐secondary education and succeed at that education. This raises employment prospects and reduces duration of unemployment if it occurs.”

In fact, according to his research, “for every public dollar invested in early childhood development, the return ranges from roughly $1.5 to almost $3, with the benefit ratio for disadvantaged children being in the double digits.”

Indeed, around the world, the happiest results correlate with the earliest starts.

A recent OECD report states that in Sweden “The system of pre-school education is outstanding: (a) in its fidelity to societal values and in its attendant commitment to and respect for children; (b) in its systemic approach while respecting programmatic integrity and diversity; and (c) in its respect for teachers, parents, and the public. In each of these categories, the word ‘respect’ appears. There was trust in children and in their abilities, trust in the adults who work with them, trust in decentralised governmental processes, and trust in the state’s commitment to respect the rights of children and to do right by them.”

In Finland, the OECD concludes, “The early childhood education workforce has several strengths, such as a high qualification level of staff with teaching responsibilities, advanced professional development opportunities and favourable working environments. Staff with teaching responsibilities are well educated and trained with high initial qualification requirements. Professional development is mandatory for all staff; and training costs are shared between individual staff members, the government and employers. Working conditions in terms of staff-child ratio are among the best of OECD countries.”

All of which confirms that early childhood education is not the expensive experiment that cynics decry. On the contrary, it is a plausible, workable application for meeting some of our hoariest, long-term social challenges.

The sooner this federal government understands that this nation is not, as its political operatives like to assume, a blank canvas for partisan portraiture, the sooner we can get on with investing good money where it belongs: In the future of our kids, who will return dividends that Pleasantville can’t begin to imagine.

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And now for something completely different: Good news from New Brunswick


A reader writes, and I paraphrase: “While I agree with you about New Brunswick’s economic troubles and fiscal morass, why don’t you write something inspirational that offers some solutions? Why do you have to be such a jerk?”

I get love notes along those lines from time to time. I’m used to them, like this one from a few years back: “You disgusting, pompous prig! I hate you, I hate you, I hate you.”

Which only serves notice that you should never forget your bartender’s birthday.

Still, I am not such an unreconstructed curmudgeon that I can’t recognize good news in this province when it becomes evident.

Consider, for example, a new report out of the Atkinson Centre, a research pod at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. It says that this fine province has managed to improve its grade for the environment and services it provides to early childhood educators by a factor of two since 2011.

Specifically, it says: “In New Brunswick, the mandate for early childhood services merged under a new Department of Education and Early Childhood Development in April 2011. A new action plan, Putting Children First, details initiatives through to 2015 and builds on Be Ready for Success: A 10 year Early Childhood Strategy for New Brunswick (2008).”

At that time, “commitments included strengthening the capacity of communities to support families and young children through the integration of early childhood and family support services. In partnership with the Margaret and Wallace McCain Foundation, the Government of New Brunswick piloted Early Childhood Development Centres to inform program practice and help guide policy-makers in the building of an inclusive and accessible, family-centred child care and education system.”

Then, earlier this year, “the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development released The Linguistic and Cultural Development Policy: A Societal Project for the French Education System. This report was the result of a broad consultation to support the Acadian and Francophone community in meeting the challenges of the linguistic minority context.”

Fundamentally, though, “considerable attention is paid to the early years (birth to age 8) when the foundations for language and learning are established. The plan commits to ensuring equal access to services in French, including a single entry point in both urban and rural areas; the creation of a single file for each child, whatever the number and type of services received; and enhanced linguistic support to the professionals working in the francophone community.”

Overall, the 2014 survey gives New Brunswick a score of 8, compared with 4.5 three years ago, for its performance on the early childhood education front. That puts this least fiscally promising province in Canada, if not at the head of pack, at least in the crowd of first finishers. Or, as Atkinson Centre spokesperson Emis Akbari told the Telegraph-Journal last week, “It is not just about how much money is invested. It is about governance, funding, access, the learning environment that kids are exposed to and accountability. New Brunswick has moved ahead in quite a few areas.”

And that’s just great. I’m seriously happy about this happenstance, so don’t get me wrong when I say: Now what?

It seems to almost everyone in this business that the provinces are doing all the heavy lifting – all the weight-training the federal government decided to reject in 2006.

How long, then, can “have-not” jurisdictions, such as New Brunswick, be expected to cover the cost of providing, in its own region, what should be a national, publicly subsidized, universally accessible system of early childhood education?

Instead, this country’s parents are, just now, promised enriched monthly child benefits without the infrastructure, care, expertise and consistency that such investments would otherwise lever in a more sensibly arranged society.

The longterm social and economic advantages of a structured, comprehensive system of early childhood education, integrated into every public school system in Canada are so patently obvious, the fact that we’re not rushing to introduce one is just one of many patent absurdities that lace our evidence-hating proclivities in this erstwhile great nation.

On the other hand, I don’t want to be a jerk about this.

After all, too many federal, public officials already evince this personality trait far better than I ever could.

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Don’t pinch the public’s pennies for affordable daycare


For a study in contrasting world views, look no further than the federal Conservatives’ and New Democrats’ respective plans for daycare in Canada.

As the former ramped up its campaign rhetoric this week, promising tax cuts, credits and kiddie benefits for all – in effect, telling Canadians to take their own money and run – the latter unveiled a promising, though lightly coloured, early childhood education initiative that could find government-subsidized spots for up to one million pre-schoolers.

Of the two approaches, the NDP’s – which would charge parents a not unreasonable daily fee of $15 per child – is clearly the more thoughtful.

But the Tory scheme benefits both from its simplicity and its coarse, yet effective, appeal to base emotion: It doesn’t pick your pocket; rather, it appears to line your palm.

Try making the same argument about a multi-billion-dollar child-care program.

Right-wing politicos and their table-banging confederates in the chambers of public policy love to poke the mama bears of this country.

What right, they ponder provocatively, does the state reserve for itself – on the citizen’s dime, no less – when it interferes with a kid’s natural development in the home?

What’s wrong with babysitters, nannies, au pairs, or, for that matter, good, old mum and dad?

Stephen Harper’s “reformers” knew exactly what they were doing back in 2005 (before their ascent to power and prestige) when they promised to axe the Grits’ hard-won national daycare program and replace it with the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB), which would dispense monthly cheques (each with a minimum value of $100) to families with kids under the age of six.

At the time, Mr. Harper said, “The only people who should be making these choices (about pre-school) are parents, not politicians, not the government.”

In effect, though, the future prime minister was signaling his intention to wield whatever authority he would soon possess to limit, not expand, options for working mothers and fathers. And recent reports from Ottawa indicate that he hasn’t changed his mind in the run-up to next fall’s general election.

According to National Post columnist John Ivison, writing on Saturday, “The Conservatives are planning to enhance the universal child-care benefit in the upcoming fiscal update, so that parents with children older than six will also receive $100 cheques, multiple sources suggest.”

All of which merely adds insult to the injury inflicted years ago when the Tories first propagated the absurd notion that $100 per child per month was a perfectly adequate, no-strings-attached alternative to universally accessible, publicly subsidized child care for kids aged 2 to four.

Still, many parents will prefer to embrace the Harper approach (and the money it provides) and dismiss the evidence, which is, frankly, overwhelming.

A report last year by Queen’s and McMaster Universities concluded that children who tend full-day kindergarten (FDK) are “better prepared to enter Grade 1 and to be more successful in school” than those who don’t.

A compendium of expert research and opinion on the subject, The Early Years Study 3, published in 2011, also states: “Researchers have found that parents whose children attend programs that are integrated into their school are much less anxious than their neighbours whose kids are in the regular jumbled system. Direct gains have also been documented for children. Evaluations of Sure Start in the UK, Communities for Children in Australia and Toronto First Duty found children in neighbourhoods with integrated children’s services showed better social development, more positive social behaviour and greater independence/self-regulation compared with children living in similar areas without an integrated program.”

Yes, establishing and operating an effective system will cost billions of dollars. And yes, overcoming the inevitable problems, both large and small, won’t be easy.

But, as the The Early Years Study 3 points out, “Investing $1 million in child care would create at least 40 jobs, 43 per cent more jobs than the next highest industry and four times the number of jobs generated by $1 million in construction spending. Every dollar invested in child care increases the economy’s output (GDP) by $2.30.”

With such facts staring us in the face, how can we take the money and run?

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Putting the true profit motive back into government


At some point during their long campaign to regain the relevance they once enjoyed in western society, progressive liberals of the social-democratic mien finally wised-up to the fact that filthy lucre, not moral suasion, makes the world go round.

Specifically, unless they can link improvements in living standards, literacy and child care to actual wealth creation, they might as well go home and write folk songs for all the influence they’ll wield.

The money principle has been the genius of the counter-counter-culture that began with the reign of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, continued under the “everything goes” administration of Bill Clinton, persisted during the corporatist eras of the daddy-son Bush tag-team of George and Georgie W. It now languishes in Barack Obama’s uncertain hands. 

The fundamental idea was, and is, that Government is, at best, a necessary evil. Most of the time it’s just evil by nature – wasteful, tyrannical, ineffective. 

The “market” was, and is, mankind’s true salvation. Individuals, properly motivated through low taxation, will solve their own problems.

In this conception of reality, welfare is for weaklings, schools are for learnin’ the three Rs and, higher education is for snooty elites unless it leads to a job at a billion-dollar tech firm in Silicon Valley.

Or, as the late Margaret Thatcher once opined, “We want a society where people are free to make choices, to make mistakes, to be generous and compassionate. This is what we mean by a moral society; not a society where the state is responsible for everything, and no one is responsible for the state.”

Lately, though, that notion has been turning on its head.

Andre Picard, the Globe and Mail’s award-winning public health reporter, recently quoted from a study underwritten by the Mental Health Commission of Canada. The findings were startling.

“For every $1 spent providing housing and support for a homeless person with sever mental illness, $2.17 in savings are reaped because they spend less time in hospital, in prison and in shelters,” Mr. Picard reported earlier this month.

“People who are severely mentally ill and chronically homeless use a lot of services – an average of $225,000 a year, according to research. Providing housing and support is costly too – an average of $19,582 per person. But the avoided costs are much greater, $42,536 on average, because those who are housed are put in hospital less often, make fewer ER visits and do not use shelters as often. . .For people with less severe mental illness and lesser needs, 96 cents is saves for every additional $1 spent on housing.”

The results suggest that, contrary to the opinions of nanny-state decriers, Government’s obligations to provide safe, reliable housing to the erstwhile homeless is not only moral – it’s also financial, as the investment yields an enviable return for all taxpayers.

Apparently, that’s something even a Harperite can get behind. 

“We can do more – not just manage homelessness, but eliminate it altogether,” Candice Bergen, federal minister of social development, said at the study’s unveiling in Ottawa on April 8. “I’m realistic. I know there will always be people who will be homeless and who will need help. But most people can recover, they can get back on their feet.”

Lately, the same line of reasoning has been leaking from commentaries by the unlikeliest sources: economists. 

When TD Bank Group’s Craig Alexander is not talking about the dollars-and-cents benefits of structured, universally accessible early childhood education, he’s pointing out the enormous costs to society of structural, endemic illiteracy.

Halting it, he recently told a business crowd in Saint John, “raises your income, which ends up creating a better standard of living. You invest in people. You improve their skills. You give them the ability to be much more productive. It’s good for business.”

It’s also good for the state – which, for all practical purposes, means all of us.



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Valuable lessons from La belle province

What price doth the future demand?

What price doth the future demand?

Although Quebec’s Charter of Values is not, by any sane measure, a beacon of wise public policy, at least two of its civic programs indisputably are: its public child care initiative and its school system.

Fifteen years ago, La belle province launched universal, full-day, $7-per-diem early childhood education, a program unlike any other in Canada and one that a recent Globe and Mail report described as a “a wildly ambitious experiment in society-building – a controversial $2.2-billion bet that better daycare can not only transform child development but also vastly improve the prospects of women and the poor, and build a better labour force.”

Today, 15 years later, Quebec teenagers are among the most mathematically proficient secondary schoolers in the world; on par with their counterparts in Japan, and not far off the mark set by those in Macau-China. 

Considering that the rest of Canada declined precipitously in the 2012 Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development survey, compared with results from 2006 and 2009, it’s hard to escape the conclusion the Quebec’s structured and integrated approach – a “whole child” concept that provides both consistent and standardized learning opportunities from pre-kindergarten to post-grade school – is actually working.

That may come as a great disappointment to libertarian brand warriors, both in and out  of government, who believe that schools should reflect the diversity and often unequal capabilities of the “customers” they serve. 

For many, the Bush-era mantra of “no child left behind” means literally that: by hook or by crook, all kids matriculate either to university or into the workforce, regardless of their respective abilities to make change from a five dollar bill or find the square root of four (spoiler alert: it’s two).

That’s one reason why falling high school drop-out rates in Canada provides only false hope to educators, parents and employers. A far more serious problem is the widening skills gap – a complex problem that many experts say is exacerbated by rickety educational apparatus across the country.

“Jobs are being created, but we simply don’t have enough skills in the right place at the right time,” Alistair Cox, the chief executive of international recruiting firm Hays PLC told the Globe in October. “Sadly, there is a lot of friction in the system, which will make [the jobs mismatch] worse as the economy improves. . .Companies are really struggling to find the high-end niche skills that they need for the jobs that are available.”

Added the Globe writer: “One problem in filling the skills gap is that educational institutions take so long to redirect their resources to the jobs that are opening up, while immigration rules are being ‘tuned to mass and unskilled migration issues, as opposed to highly skilled migration,’ Mr. Cox said.”

It may well be as Paul Cappon, a senior fellow at the graduate school of international and public policy at the University of Ottawa, tells the Globe this week: “Canada will continue its decline in all international rankings in the education field until it develops a national strategy – including standards and shared learning outcomes for all age and grade levels.”

But Quebec’s example suggests that such ambitions are worthy. They even become workable when you consider the economic impact.

“We estimate that in 2008 universal access to low-fee childcare in Quebec induced nearly 70,000 more mothers to hold jobs than if no such program existed – an increase of 3.8 per cent in women employment,” concluded a report by Canadian economists Pierre Fortin, Luc Godbout and Suxie St.-Cerny a few years ago. “By our calculation, Quebec’s domestic income was higher by about 1.7 per cent ($5 billion) as a result. We find that the tax-transfer return the federal and Quebec governments get from the program significantly exceeds its cost.”

Indeed, given the larger and longer-term contributions of a national model of early childhood learning and disciplined public education to the country’s prosperity and competitiveness, any program would be a bargain at thrice the price of Quebec’s.

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Learning life’s lessons early and often


Apart from global warming, few issues in Canada provide readier cannon fodder for partisan warfare than early childhood education. That’s because, when it comes to her kids, every mum is willing to fight to the death on the battlefields of ideology.

When should the state intervene with structured pedagogy? When a tyke is five years old, or four or three? When she’s a toddler? What’s wrong with private daycare? For that matter, what’s wrong keeping your youngster tethered to your apron strings for as long as possible?

Politicians on the right side of the continuum love to make hay with this. They frame the debate, literally, as a motherhood issue. And the strategy works to marvelous effect within a certain important segment of the voting public.

The reform-minded Tory team – before it became the federal government – launched a terrific salvo into the camp of the reigning Liberals in 2005 when, as the CBC reported at the time, “Stephen Harper unveiled a Conservative plan on Monday that would give parents of young children $100 a month for child care. The. . .leader made the announcement at a noisy day-care centre in Ottawa. ‘This is just like a caucus meeting,’ he said on a campaign stop for the Jan. 23 federal election.”

The item continued: “Addressing the challenges parents face in raising kids while trying to earn a living, Harper said, ‘The Conservative plan for families will help parents find that balance.’ The Conservatives’ two-part plan includes money to help create child-care spaces as well as the $100-a-month ‘choice in child-care allowance.’ With the new allowance, families would receive $1,200 a year for each child under the age of six. . . .In fact, the only people who should be making these choices are parents, not politicians, not the government.’”

In fact, all the evidence suggested, contrarily, that early childhood education –  universally accessible, structured, and integrated into the public school system – is a boon to kids, their parents and, in fact, society at large.

A new study – reportedly the largest of its kind in Canada – seems to bear this out. The report, released earlier this week, by Queen’s and McMaster Universities found that children who attend full-day kindergarten are “better prepared to enter Grade 1 and to be more successful in school” than those who don’t.

That’s according to a blurb on the Ontario government’s website, which also states: “Comparisons of children with two years of FDK instruction and children with no FDK instruction showed that FDK reduced risks in social competence development from 10.5 per cent to 5.2 per cent; reduced risks in language and cognitive development from 16.4 per cent to 4.3 per cent; reduced risks in communication skills and general knowledge development from 10.5 per cent to 5.6 per cent.”

How much better prepared would they be if they had access to a national early childhood education (pre-kindergarten) system shouldn’t be a matter of conjecture. A seminal report on the subject, The Early Years Study 3, published in 2011, is both categorical and convincing: “Researchers have found that parents whose children attend programs that are integrated into their school are much less anxious than their neighbours whose kids are in the regular jumbled system. Direct gains have also been documented for children. Evaluations of Sure Start in the UK, Communities for Children in Australia and Toronto First Duty found children in neighbourhoods with integrated children’s services showed better social development, more positive social behaviour and greater independence/self-regulation compared with children living in similar areas without an integrated program.”

Naturally, there is a cost. But there’s also a reward. And as The Early Years Study 3 points out, the return far outweighs the investment: “Economist Robert Fairholm. . . (shows) how investing in educational child care (is) a handsdown winner. Investing $1 million in child care would create at least 40 jobs, 43 per cent more jobs than the next highest industry and four times the number of jobs generated by $1 million in construction spending. Every dollar invested in child care increases the economy’s output (GDP) by $2.30.”

These considerations, alongside the evidence of improving outcomes for kids, makes you wonder not whether our society can afford early childhood education, but whether we can afford our society without it.

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