The Mississippi Early Childhood Investment Council of ReadyNation, an invitation-only group of business leaders working to positively impact policies and programs to help Mississippi’s children succeed, is standing up and using its voice to give support to efforts that will grow our state’s economy and strengthen our workforce by investing in young children.
In 2020, the legislature ensured per-pupil pre-K funding was enough to promote quality. Because the pandemic interrupted the session and sidelined many general bills, the legislature made the funding change directly in the budget bill, which means it only lasts for one year. This year, business leaders from across the state believe it is important to finish the job to make the rate increase permanent and prevent a cut to pre-K during an ongoing pandemic. Quality is an essential element of ensuring that pre-K programs will create the positive outcomes studies have shown them to promote. Therefore, funding provided to early learning collaboratives is crucial.
Business leaders know that a skilled, productive workforce is essential for a strong Mississippi economy. High-quality early childhood education (ECE) supports this workforce now and into the future. Parents need high-quality ECE programs, such as child care and pre-K, so that they can go to work and support their families. Employees need to be engaged. Productive employees who are not distracted by concerns about their children’s well-being during the workday produce on a higher level. And children need responsive, high-quality environments that nurture optimal brain development and promote cognitive and socioemotional growth.
A strong economy depends on a workforce with the education and skills required by employers. Through investing in high-quality early childhood care and education, we can better prepare our young people for success in life and grow our economy.