5 Key Takeaways from the 2017 Early Ed Roadshow

From Baton Rouge to Grand Rapids, Austin to Atlanta, and finishing up in Frankfort last month, our 2017 five-city childcare roadshow is complete. We brought together business leaders, policy makers, advocates, and practitioners to discuss the critical role of high-quality early education and care in advancing the workforce of today, and the workforce of tomorrow.

The events were a great success. In each state, we found an energized business community, eager and ready to take the lead in advancing this conversation in their own community.

A Few Key Messages Really Stand Out

It’s an Education Issue

If you were able to attend the roadshow events this year, you might have heard us say that this is not a care versus education argument. While we’ve long counted on K–12 schools to prepare children for success in work and life, recent research shows that schools’ primary challenge is to compensate for early disadvantage that handicaps many children even before they enter kindergarten. At our events, we shared data on the critical importance of a child's earliest years and the significance of brain development not only for IQ, but for social and emotional development as well. 

Business leaders, advocates, and policymakers were in agreement across the board that though there are challenges, a commitment to early education school readiness leads to higher achievement levels later on in the education pipeline.  

It's a Workforce Issue

And one that is affecting businesses’ bottom line. In Baton Rouge, we heard from Lane Grigsby, CEO of Cajun Industries, who noted that childcare is increasingly an issue that affects businesses on a day-to-day basis, and one where industry must lead the way in finding solutions.

Quality Matters

In Austin, Shay Everitt and Mandi Kimball of Children at Risk highlighted challenges accessing affordable and high-quality care in Travis County. They stressed the importance of quality settings in preparing children for success both in school and beyond.

It Makes Economic Sense

In Atlanta, we heard from the retired chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Dennis Lockhart, on the high public return on investment that high-quality early education and care can yield when targeted to typically underserved, vulnerable children.

No one sector can solve this challenge alone.

The most important takeaway for us was one that we are already familiar with but one that was reinforced in each city we visited. This challenge requires a village. Businesses, policymakers, and the community must work together. In Frankfort, leaders from Lexmark International, Rockcastle Regional Hospital, and Kentucky Educational Television emphasized the need for public and private collaborative solutions.

We look forward to continuing this conversation next year, as we add an additional seven states to our roadshow. We want to extend the breadth of input as much as possible, because while there are some positive things happening, it’s important to note that no one state has a perfect system. There is still a great deal of potential to move the needle forward and improve access to high-quality childcare and early education for children and families.

Please keep an eye out for us in your state and join us. If you can’t make it there in person, follow our progress on this blog and on social media @USCCFeducation.