Sign-on to the consensus letter
Questions and Answers
What does the evidence say about early childhood education?
Q. Why the INECK network? Why today?
- To demonstrate the breadth of the evidence, across research disciplines and to confirm that tackling some of our most pressing challenges including economic development, the environment, health, gender equity and conflict resolution lies in a well-trained and competent citizenry. Children’s experiences before school entry are the foundation for that competency.
- Systematic assessments across Canada indicate that as many as 25% of children show signs of vulnerability in their physical, language, and behavioural development when they start school. Such difficulties are precursors to school dropout, adult mental health problems, and difficulties in the job market.
Q. Is disparity a problem?
- Yes, across Canada only 1 in 2 children have access to early education. The disparity is more pronounced in the West, among moderate income families outside Quebec, and among Aboriginal families and new Canadians.
Q. Should early education be universal?
- The evidence suggests all children benefit from early education. We know that early education is among the most cost-effective of the social programs. Early education decreases expenditures on social assistance and special education and contributes to economic productivity from increased adult earnings and tax transfers.
Q. What is the role of policy-makers?
- Ensure their policy-making decisions are evidence-based and supports availability to all.
- Ensure that knowledge is part of the decision-making process and integrated into the services and programs in place.
Q. What is early childhood education (ECE)?
- Programs for young children with explicit curricula, delivered by qualified staff.
- Designed to support children’s learning and development.
- Can include recourses to support families in parenting.
- May take place in children centers, kindergarten, pre-primary, pre and nursery school, head start programs.
Q. What are the economic benefits?
Economic benefits are created in both the short and long term in 4 ways:
- The sector itself creates direct jobs and spin off jobs increasing economic activity and tax revenues.
- It allows parents to work, resulting in greater tax revenues and decreased spending on social transfers.
- By identifying problems and intervening early, it reduces the need for costly special education programs.
- It contributes to the capacity of the upcoming workforce, and reduces social spending resulting from early school leaving and poor health and social outcomes.
Q. Why do academic results from ECE fade over time?
- Early education is one response to family poverty and low socio economic status. Income supports, safe housing and neighbourhoods and good elementary schooling also impact academic performance. The enduring advantage of quality early education is its impact on socio-emotional outcomes. These provide critical skills that help children avoid the risky behaviours that compromise future health and earnings.
Q. What next?
- The letter will be available on line, with an option for others to add their names. It is also being sent to interested organizations. It will then be shared with parliamentarians and officials across Canada.