Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times gets it absolutely right in his recent column, “Too Small to Fail”: “If we want to get more kids in universities, we should invest in preschools. Actually, preschool may be a bit late. Brain research in the last dozen years underscores that the time of life that may shape adult outcomes the most is pregnancy through age 2 or 3.”
And it’s not just brain science researchers and educators who agree with him. Kristof’s column highlights the work of various experts, including Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman, whose work is focused on early education for disadvantaged children because he sees that as perhaps the highest-return public investment in the world today.
The Bainum Family Foundation’s work in Wards 7 and 8 of the District of Columbia reflects these same principles. While we once worked mostly with secondary school students, we have shifted our focus to infants and toddlers because we, too, realized that we need to reach children earlier. We support strong investments in high-quality early learning, plus wrap-around supports through elementary school to help children and families thrive.