Blog | November 11, 2021

Social-Emotional Research Takes Center-Stage

The Mississippi ECIC met virtually to discuss how to best support kids in the state

On Thursday, October 21, 2021, the Early Childhood Investment Council (ECIC), an influential group of senior business leaders, met virtually for the 2nd Annual Mississippi Early Childhood Investment Council Convening. The power of the Early Childhood Investment Council group is their passion and love for children and families across the state of Mississippi, their understanding of how investments in children impact the state economy, and their willingness to use that power to influence decision-makers to support investments in young children.

Holly Spivey, Head Start Collaboration Director and Education Policy Advisor in the Office of Governor Tate Reeves, shared thanks for the work of the ECIC on behalf of the governor and provided updates from the State Early Childhood Advisory Council.

Todd Klunk, W.K. Kellogg Foundation Program Officer, talked about the Kellogg Foundation’s commitment to Mississippi and how they are proud to support the work of the ECIC.

Project Director Tonya H. Ware shared vital data from a 2017 national survey commissioned by ReadyNation: 92 percent of a nationally representative sample of 300 business leaders agreed that children’s experiences in the first five years of life affect the development of their social-emotional skills later in life. Further, the foundation of adult character skills is built in early childhood, and research has shown that character skills formed during this critical time in a child’s life impact the workforce.

For example, a 20-year study examined the character skills of 800 kindergarteners and followed them until age 25. For every one-point increase in children’s character skills scores in kindergarten, they were 54 percent more likely to earn a high school diploma, twice as likely to attain a college degree, and 46 percent more likely to have a full-time job at age 25.

ReadyNation Brain Science Speakers Bureau expert speaker Bob Sornson, Ph.D., discussed the importance of social-emotional skills in young learners for positive outcomes later in life. The Lena Grow organization showcased how they are partnering with classrooms, teachers, and parents in Mississippi to provide data and device support to track early talk in young children as they learn and develop social-emotional skills. During this annual meeting, ReadyNation released a research brief focused on how developing children’s social-emotional skills supports workforce success in Mississippi.

Rachel Canter, Mississippi First Executive Director, discussed early childhood policy opportunities and the importance of business voices to impact positive change. Those who joined the annual meeting were filled with a sense of hope and resolved to focus on the critical mission ahead.


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