High-Quality Early Childhood Programs are Key for a Strong New Mexico
Home visiting, child care, and preschool can help grow the economy, increase public safety, and enhance national security
High-quality early childhood programs can contribute to public safety, help build a strong economy, and enhance national security. Research shows that experiences children have in their earliest years, during a period of critical brain growth, set the foundation for future development. Children who experience warm, responsive parenting and nurturing child care and preschool programs that stimulate their cognitive, social, and emotional development are set on a path to productive adulthood. Children who lack these quality environments early in life often arrive at school already behind their peers and may never catch up—underperforming in third-grade reading and math, more likely to be held back in school, and less likely to graduate from high school on time.
Children’s early experiences also have consequences for our state and our nation. Our national security relies on qualified young adults who are ready, willing, and able to serve in the U.S. military. However, issues like educational deficits, health issues, substance abuse, and crime prevent 72 percent of New Mexico youth from qualifying for service. New Mexico’s jails are full of people serving time for serious and costly crimes, many of whom lack high school diplomas that would qualify them for legitimate employment. New Mexico’s businesses need a steady supply of educated, skilled young people to build a strong workforce to compete in the global economy.
New Mexico voters recognize the importance of the early years and providing appropriate supports, with 70 percent approving a constitutional amendment that creates a dedicated funding stream for early childhood education. New Mexico policymakers must support these high-quality early childhood programs, including home visiting, child care, and preschool, to provide our children with the strong foundation they need to contribute to the future strength of our state and our nation.