Today is our oldest son’s 25th birthday! From 1986-1989 when we first lived in the St. Louis area, he and we received the benefits of Parents as Teachers. As a first-time mother, the program gave much peace of mind!
We’ve been saddened by the recent news stories of the budget cuts the state is imposing on your program and decided to make a donation to support one child as a way of saying thanks and paying back the benefits offered to us so long ago. We hope it helps and would urge others to do the same.
How many times have you visited the Web site of the Federal Reserve Bank in St. Louis? Probably not often. It’s an unlikely place to find discussion on early childhood education. But a growing group of economists is rattling cages about the high rate of return investments from early childhood programs have.
Who should make these investments? Take the poll on the Fed’s Web site. As I write this, 345 have responded. That may not comprise a large enough group to be representative of public opinion, but the types of people who responded to this survey should set off alarms! My guess is that most are financial professionals and in positions to influence financial policy.
So why haven’t they gotten the message that investing in early childhood programs yields extraordinary returns? A Nobel laureate in economics, Dr. James Heckman of the University of Chicago, estimates that the returns are 7 to 12 times the investment. The Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank has been touting the importance of investing in early childhood education programs, too. The St. Louis Federal Reserve is even sponsoring a public policy dialogue next month to discuss the implications of a widening achievement gap, lack of community leadership, and increased demand for community engagement on society. These are some impressive advocates.
Greg called me the other day. He provides a service we use occasionally and wanted to update me on some new offerings. He and his family participated in a Parents as Teachers program with their children. “I’m a big supporter of Parents as Teachers,” he told me. “You do great work and my wife and I really believe in what you do.”
Is he telling them about Parents as Teachers?
Did you voice your support to your legislators when they were debating state budget cuts to Missouri’s Parents as Teachers programs last month, I asked? Greg laughed, embarrassed, and admitted he had not.
True, thousands called or e-mailed their legislators to voice support for Parents as Teachers as Missouri focused on cutting its budget for Parents as Teachers. But that was then. This is now.
Wonder if they're discussing Parents as Teachers?
How many Parents as Teachers “supporters” continue to voice their support publicly? Or are we back to complacency: my voice doesn’t matter, it obviously didn’t matter to Missouri legislators, what’s done is done, there’s no impending issue right now.
In fact, there is! $1.5 billion of federal funding for home visiting programs (that’s what Parents as Teachers is) is about to be awarded to states. But states have options about which home visiting partner(s) they choose to spend their allocation on.
If your state’s families are going to have access to Parents as Teachers services, it’s critical to keep the conversation alive.
Are you a Parents as Teachers supporter? How are you showing it?