In September 2015, Borough President Eric Adams and State Senator Daniel Squadron convened a task force to study early childhood education opportunities throughout the borough.
On February 2 at Sunset Park's Magical Years Early Childhood Development Center, they released the findings of the task force and made some key recommendations.
“There is nothing magical about preparing children for tomorrow,” Adams said. “It merely means starting early with giving them the needs and resources that they deserve.”
Their study calls for an increase in funding for evidence-based early childhood development programs, as well as the creation of partnerships with community-based organizations and networks to increase awareness about the importance of early childhood interventions and services.
Adams and Squadron will convene a workshop for Brooklyn clergy members to engage and educate religious leaders so they may circulate information throughout their congregations.
They are also calling on the Brooklyn Public Library to create lending institutions for books, educational materials, puzzles, and toys for early childhood development programs.
Adams explained that it's more than just providing children with universal pre-kindergarten, and includes healthcare, access to healthy food, interaction with children of other cultures, and teaching children basic skills.
“We must be more in line with what it takes to prepare our children for tomorrow,” Adams said. “This disjointed, disconnected, resource flow is harming the future of our children.”
With two young children of his own, Squadron said he's always thinking about early childhood education.
“If we start before a child is born, working with parents and the family of that child until they're five or six years old, that child's path in life has been magically redirected with a greater opportunity at lower cost than you can do at any other point,” he said.
Early childhood education is defined as occurring before the age of eight, when children are going through their most rapid phase of development of social skills, self-esteem, perception of the world and moral outlook.
Overall, the study found that children engaged in early childhood development services show a reduction in language delays, increased readiness for pre-K and kindergarten and increased test scores in grade school.
For children who would be classified as “at-risk youth,” a lack of high-quality early childhood experiences cause them to be more likely to drop out of school and become teenage parents, while also being less likely to attend college.
Early childhood development programs were also linked to a decreased involvement in the criminal justice system and to significant increases in a mother’s employment rate and income.