Value of early childhood education focus of meeting
"Investing money in early childhood education can provide a significant positive economic, scholastic and social return."
That was the message brought to members of the Wayne Business and Industry group by Drew Theophilus, Director of Dividends Nebraska.
Theophilus was the featured speaker at the group's December meeting, which was held at the Wayne Early Learning Center.
Prior to his presentation, information was shared by Misty Beair, Director of the Early Learning Center. She told those in attendance how the Early Learning Center came into existence.
She said discussion of starting a preschool associated with the school began in 2000; however the preschool was not opened until the fall of 2015.
Statistics from 2013 indicated only 60 percent of the preschool age students were enrolled in some type of preschool. Among the reasons for this were the cost of preschool, transportation and the need for translation.
"Our goal when we opened the preschool was to have 20 students enrolled in the four-year old program and 10 in the three-year old program. Now the goal for both groups is 20 students," Beair said.
She talked about the community consortium the school's preschool has with other preschools in the community. She explained the sliding fee schedule for the students attending the preschool and how eligibility is determined.
Theophilus talked about the benefits of early childhood education to the business community.
"We have workforce shortage in the state and need to be concerned about our future workforce. Studies show that the earlier we can provide learning opportunities to children, the greater chance we have of keeping them in school and increasing their skills. These include not only cognitive skills and technical knowledge, but also character qualities such as reliability, problem-solving and focus," he said.
He said children learn rapidly in their early years and money invested in early childhood education has been shown to have a return of $13 for each dollar invested.
Theophilus noted that cost savings that come from investing in early childhood education include less money spent on corrections (prisons and other law enforcement), special and remedial placement of students, behavioral health issues and chronic health problems.
He concluded his presentation with information on how the city of Red Cloud created economic development within the community by building a childcare facility that allowed businesses and the community to expand and created 10-12 jobs in the community.