Every year, millions of kids are enrolled in programs that parents hope will build the foundation for school success.
But does the cost of early education pay off over a lifetime?
Researchers analyzed decades of information from two government-funded early childhood programs that served disadvantaged kids from birth to age five.
One of these programs, A-B-C/Care, offered cognitive, social emotional and physical development.
Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman says for every dollar spent on this program, there was a return of more than $6.
"What we are getting is the structure of returns when we include that health returns are as high as 14 percent per annum. A huge benefit cost ratio," said Heckman.
Children who participated in the programs had higher test scores and less grade retention. At age 35 their health was better. Men had lower blood pressure and lower drug use. Women had better adult employment.
Researchers say high-quality programs focus on the whole child, not just academic learning. Parents can look for programs where there is a focus on health for example, having nurses on staff and developmental screenings.
Also, check to see if children are provided with meals and snacks to ensure access to good nutrition. Early childhood options that may payoff years down the road.
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