God’s Work, Our Voices – Advocating on Behalf of Our Kids: We Can Do More
“Early childhood development . . . unfolds at a breathtaking pace. We have long understood children’s development to their full potential as a fundamental human right. We now know, from . . . neuroscience research, just how critical the early years of life are in the development of a child’s brain and in shaping their future. Meanwhile, economics has shown us the great benefits of investing in young children during this unique developmental window—and the wrenching costs, to children and societies, of failing to do so.” UNICEF Report.
When I worked at a university, I occasionally taught courses to help first-year students hone skills for college success. Some students revealed things that surprised me. One apologized for missing class and submitted papers verifying his court appearance on assault charges. Another had problems finding daycare for her child. Others gave class presentations, mentioning their time in rehab or jail. They were precious New Mexico teens, and I was moved by their efforts to get an education. I was glad courses such as the ones I taught existed, but they seemed too little too late. These young people already had endured much.
The United Nations’ program, UNICEF, reminds us that societies globally must invest in their children early. Early Childhood Education is one way to make that investment. How much does the U.S. publicly invest per toddler in early education and care? $500 per year, according to Elizabeth Davis and Aaron Sojourner. The governments of Norway, Finland, and Denmark invest over $20,000 per toddler. Germany, Sweden, and Slovenia follow with investments ranging from $18,000-plus down to $10,000. Others like Australia and Chile come in under $10,000 per toddler but still are in the thousands. We in the U.S., with $500 per toddler, can do more.
What about New Mexico? In recent years, we have placed around 49th or 50th among states in the well-being of our children. We can do more.
Some actions that we, as advocates for our children, can take are these:
- Learn as much as we can about the Early Childhood Education Amendment that will be on our general election ballots this fall. The following may be useful sources:
- Learn more about supporting our children at a virtual conference on August 18, from 10 a.m. to noon. Register at KIDS COUNT Conference – New Mexico Voices for Children (nmvoices.org)
Judy Messal https://www.unicef.org/early-childhood-development/data-evidence-tracking  How Other Nations Pay for Child Care. The U.S. Is an Outlier. – The New York Times (nytimes.com)  2021 New Mexico KIDS COUNT Data Book – New Mexico Voices for Children (nmvoices.org)