A huge thank you to our passionate advocate, Dr. Abby Grant, who took the lead to develop this topic with one of our recent grads, Dr. Kiersten Derby. I am so excited about some of the newer resources that were shared with us by Nancy Ashley, a local advocate, including her searchable database.
- Case Discussion
- How Preschool Addresses Poverty – very readable and compelling summary
- Factors for selecting early learning programs – great 1-pager on factors that guide referral
- Early learning programs by age group – handy reference of programs/requirements
- Early Learning Locator tool www.earlylearnlocator.org. Requires a login (note that it may be difficult to access through children's because of a security certificate). Simple to use searchable database. Allows search by zipcode and language for home visiting programs, preschool, and play groups, child care, and infant mental health services.
Take-home points about early learning:
- Our role: We as pediatricians have an opportunity to advocate for our patients through early learning settings: referrals to quality child care, preschool and Head Start programs, and also supporting work on policies and funding for these programs.
- Why preschool matters: Robust research shows that children who participate in high-quality preschool programs have better health, social-emotional, and cognitive outcomes than those who do not participate. Participating in quality early learning can boost educational attainment and income later in life – some studies have followed up participants into their 40s and 50s. A key factor in the most successful programs is very high-quality offered by well-trained staff.
- Preschool helps address disparities: Children from low-income families on average start kindergarten 12 to 14 months behind their peers in pre-literacy and language skills – they have the most to gain from preschool programs.
- We can do better: Only 41% of children from low-income families are enrolled in preschool compared to 61% of more affluent peers.
- Next steps: While most pediatricians inquire about early education, only a small proportion assist families in completing Head Start applications. Read the attached to learn more about options for publicly funded programs for your patients. Please remember to advocate for quality early learning settings for your patients and in our local and state policy decisions.