To Combat Inequity,
Begin Before Pre-K

When it comes to success in both school and life, research repeatedly stresses one critical window for children: their first 1,000 days of life. Supports children receive (or lack) during these first three years have lifelong implications for all future learning, behavior and health — and right from its title, this recent article from the Washington Post (“By age 3, inequality is clear”) further emphasizes the need to get these years right.

“The earliest years are the most promising for brain and skill development, yet it is when the U.S. invests the least,” says Yoshikawa, an education professor at New York University

— Hirokazu Yoshikawa, education professor, New York University

While this article highlights the District of Columbia as the “only place that currently educates all 3-year-olds” (i.e., the only city that offers universal pre-kindergarten for children both 3- and 4-year-olds), we see this as the beginning of much more. A natural next step for our city would be to invest earlier, advancing Paid Family Leave, high-quality child care and pediatric supports — all causes championed by members of the Birth-to-Three Policy Alliance.

Raise DC and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), two of our policy partners, recently released an interactive resource (“Our Children, Our Community, Our Change”) that maps out the inequities that still exist in our city, drawing particular attention to Wards 7 and 8. Until race and place no longer predict child outcomes, we believe there’s far more work to be done. And with the Policy Alliance and other work with our passionate partners, we’re taking a systems approach to develop sustainable solutions for the children and families in our community. Learn more about the Birth-to-Three Policy Alliance.