Improve our Community by Helping the Young
A while back, the Community Foundation of North Texas hosted an Early Learning Summit. During a panel discussion James Heckman, Ph.D. Nobel prize winner in economics, gave a surprising statistic – he stated that early childhood education is 5 times more effective at reducing community violence than police training. Ralph Heath, former president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, and Jeremy Smith, Executive with the Rainwater Foundation, called early childhood a workforce readiness solution to our nation’s challenge of not having a prepared workforce. We can all agree that these are important ideas relative to today’s headlines.
But finding and scaling the right solutions is incredibly challenging.
A simple answer is increasing the availability of high-quality early childhood education so that more of the impoverished population of children have access. But that answer is expensive and complicated and controversial. Teachers for these children are often paid at the same rate as fast food workers and their lives are often complicated by the same poverty as that which plagues their students.
Because we’ve thought through these realities, we’ve been layering additional support services on top of our high-quality early childhood education, including individualized financial coaching and social work supports. We’re working to increase the rates of pay for our teachers and increasing their access to their own education. We’re intentionally offering the teachers the same kind of financial empowerment services that we offer our participating families.
Our program isn’t huge. In our small scale, we only reach about 600 – 700 children and their families per year. But – if we can prepare our very low income children for school, so they are ready for school (100% of our kids tested “ready” this year right before they entered kindergarten) AND we help their parents move out of poverty, we will indeed reduce the likelihood of them experiencing the violence that is associated with poverty - and the children are so much more likely to graduate high school and become part of the workforce.
I’m very glad there are extraordinarily smart people thinking and talking about the importance of early childhood. I’m even more grateful that our Center for Transforming Lives provides great quality early childhood education, while considering parents and teachers. To hear the experts, your investment is paying real dividends for our community.
About the Author:
The Center for Transforming Lives' CEO, Carol Klocek, provides strategic leadership for all programs in alignment with the mission to move women, children, and families from poverty to independence. Ms. Klocek has more than 25 years of results-oriented nonprofit management experience, all within human service organizations, and holds master's degrees in social work from University of Texas at Arlington and a master's in business from Texas Christian University. Carol has been with the CTL 8 years.