WHO WE ARE
Peter L. Mangione is Co-Director of WestEd’s Center for Child and Family Studies located in Sausalito, California. Mangione has worked extensively in the fields of child development, early childhood education, family support services, public policy, and research and evaluation since 1980. He provides leadership in the development of comprehensive training resources for infant and toddler care teachers and the evaluation of early childhood programs and services. His contributions have helped make the Program for Infant/Toddler Care a national model for training early childhood practitioners. Recently, among many other projects, he led efforts to create California’s Infant Toddler Learning and Development Program Guidelines and Foundations. Mangione is also a father. He joins the For Our Babies campaign to demand that social policies in the United States better match what research tells us infants’ need.
The evidence is clear: Investing in early childhood programs will improve our nation’s global competitiveness, health and education outcomes, and reduce crime and poverty. So states James Heckman, a Nobel Memorial Prize winner in Economics, who presents solid evidence that the quality of nurturing, learning experiences, and physical health from birth to age five greatly impacts a child’s future success or failure in society.
No one need shoulder this financial responsibility alone. Taxpayers, policymakers, and employers can all play a part in the economic equation. All can invest, and all will reap the benefits. Consider these findings:
- Heckman calculates that investing in early childhood education increases high school graduation rates. Every high school dropout loses a quarter of a million dollars in lifetime earnings; this ultimately costs taxpayers up to $288,000 in additional costs of health care, public safety, and other social programs.
- Every dollar spent on high-quality early childhood programs for disadvantaged children creates $7 to $9 in future savings to the communities and states making the investment.
For naysayers who argue our taxpayers and employers can’t afford to spend more money to bolster children’s development, Heckman points out that prevention through early childhood development is far more effective than remediation. Simply put, we either pay now, or pay much more later.
Investing in support for our nation’s infants and toddlers should concern everyone in the US. It produces school readiness, a competent workforce, productive taxpayers, effective citizens, and fewer criminals. We cannot afford not to make this basic investment in our children, families, communities, and nation.