For Immediate Release
Contact: Jeffrey Guilfoyle, Vice President
Public Sector Consultants
REPORT RELEASE: Policy Options to Support Children from Birth to Age Three
Public Sector Consultants (PSC) and the Citizens Research Council of Michigan (CRC) are pleased to announce the publication of “Policy Options to Support Children from Birth to Age Three,” a jointly authored report aimed at helping policymakers target resources in ways that are most likely to produce the best outcomes for Michigan’s children and for the state as a whole.
Extensive research has demonstrated that the period from birth to age three is critical to a child’s development. Depending on circumstances, children can begin with a great start, or they can begin to fall behind. Research demonstrates that early intervention is far more effective at improving outcomes for children than later remediation.
“The research supporting early childhood investment is remarkable in its breadth and quality,” says PSC Vice President Jeffrey Guilfoyle. “In addition to benefitting children, early childhood investments often pay substantial returns to taxpayers, and in fact, investment in research-based early childhood programs may be the single most effective economic development strategy that Michigan can pursue.”
The report identifies four promising areas for investment:
- Home visiting programs: These are voluntary programs that link parents with trained service providers (e.g., nurses, social workers) who coach families on how to best support their child, address the challenges they face, and teach ways to improve the home environment for children.
- Access to medical homes: Children with access to medical homes have an ongoing relationship with a personal primary care physician, where the physician and other providers consider the needs of the child, provide enhanced access, and coordinate or integrate specialty care as needed.
- High-quality child care: A growing body of research illustrates the link between high-quality child care and long-term outcomes for children. Positive child care environments promote children’s progress in both academic and social skills.
- Preschool for three-year-olds: The expansion of the Great Start Readiness Program has made preschool widely available to at-risk four-year-olds. Publicly supported preschool opportunities for three-year-olds, however, are far more limited. Some studies have found that adding a second year of preschool can lead to larger and more persistent learning gains than one year of preschool.
“While there is research supporting all of these programs, the research is strongest for home visiting,” says CRC Director of State Affairs Bob Schneider. “A number of research-based home visiting programs have been studied using random control trials that follow the children for decades. These studies show the benefits of home visiting programs lasting well into adulthood.”
The report defines at-risk children as those at a heightened risk of falling behind their peers in terms of school readiness when they reach kindergarten. The report estimates that 260,000 (56 percent) Michigan children from birth to age three are at risk. Investments in the opportunities identified in this report would increase the odds that these children are on track and ready to succeed when they arrive at kindergarten.
Click here to access the report.
Public Sector Consultants is Michigan’s most respected, connected, and dedicated research and program management firm, with specialties in governance and regulation, health care, education, energy, and environmental policy. PSC is committed to providing objective research and sound solutions to the public and private sector.