Investing in America's Youngest Citizens

Recently the Foundation conducted research on government funding – nationally, by individual states and internationally – of early childhood, early education and related programs. The results of that research can be viewed below and is designed for use by academics and others interested in the field.

Fordham University Graduate School of Education provided technical support and research assistance to the project, with Abraham M. Lackman serving as Principal Investigator while a Scholar in Residence at the Graduate School and Martha Olson and Susan Knapp serving as co-investigators.

As Lackman points out, “Current scientific research demonstrates that the first three years of a child’s life are the most important in terms of brain development. If we want children to start school prepared to learn, and to succeed, then we must support young children and their parents from the mother’s pregnancy on, especially those children and families living in poverty, whose life chances are threatened by deprivation.”

Perversely, policy and public spending has not caught up with what we know about child development and the explosive brain growth that takes place in the earliest years of a child’s life. Governments at all levels in the U.S. spend more than twice as much on a per-child basis for children ages 5–17 as on children 0–5, which is almost the opposite of the support given children and families in every other wealthy nation in the world. The lack of investment in our youngest citizens profoundly impacts children born into families with low incomes and severely limits their life choices.

The research results are contained in the five reports included below. The spending analysis encompassed all programs – funded by federal, state, or local governments – that support children, or the family as a whole. Data for the analysis was drawn from federal data sources, congressional reports, or well-recognized not-for-profit organizations. In each case, data for all states was drawn from the same source.

 


 

Investing in America’s Youngest Citizens When it Matters Most: Prenatal to Age 3 – Key Findings
Executive summary highlighting the importance of early childhood to lifelong achievement and health. It compares related U.S. spending with that of other wealthy nations. It illuminates the relationship between government investment and closing achievement gaps.

Benchmarking NYS and the U.S. on Spending for America’s Youngest Children – Detailed Findings
This report includes an overview of U.S. public spending for children and their families. It ranks the top 10 states on spending per capita, based on various measures: age, population, poverty rates, performance, and others. It also explores sources of support by various measures.

Total U.S. Spending for Children and Their Families: 2012 – Detailed Findings
This report illuminates total U.S. spending and per-capita spending for different age groups on various government programs in education, health, child welfare, and economic support.

State-by-State Data
Excel spreadsheet detailing state-by-state data for different age groups (0-18) for a variety of government programs serving children and families, including preschool, Head Start and early intervention, K-12 education, maternal and child health block grants, and others.

Bibliography and Sources
Background source material used to develop the above studies.