The link between businesses and young children may seem unclear. But it shouldn’t be! Focusing on children’s needs yields both short-and long-term benefits for individual businesses and for society as a whole.
It is time that Wyoming invests in young children as our most valuable natural resource. We cannot remain competitive without a diverse, skilled workforce, and we cannot build a workforce unless we start at the beginning. Nobel prize-winning economist James Heckman found that investments in early childhood produce the highest return on the dollar compared to other investments like higher education and job training.
Benefits from investments in young children accrue to the entire community. If we ensure that every child has quality early learning experiences that prepare them for success in school and in life, we generate short- and long-term returns to taxpayers, including:
- Savings of up to $3,700 per child to the school systems over the K-12 years in remedial programs’ costs;
- Reductions in special education placements of nearly 50 percent through second grade;
- Decreases in grade repetition of as much as 33 percent through eighth grade; and
- Savings from crime-related costs between $2.00 and $11.00 per dollar invested in early childhood.
Studies show that about 60 percent of all American workers live and are employed in the state where they grew up. Providing Wyoming’s young children with quality experiences will enable them to become the creative, adaptable, team-ready employees of our future workforce.
Investment in reliable, quality early care and education and health services for young children not only shapes the caliber of tomorrow’s workforce, but also increases the productivity of today’s working families. 62 percent of children under 6 in Wyoming live in households where all parents are in the labor force. If these working parents or families feel as though they have high-quality, reliable child care, they yield greater benefits for employers through improved employee productivity, reduced absenteeism, and decreased turnover. Conversely, a business will lose $217 in productivity each day an employee making $40,000 calls in sick. Businesses or organizations may incorporate family-supportive policies into broader corporate policies to boost child, family and business outcomes.
Business development, community improvement and early childhood should be considered together because they complement each other to sustain a balanced economic development strategy. Wyoming’s economic and fiscal policies show a history of wise investments; both dollars and sense support further analysis of investments in our youngest population.
- Read about Powell Valley Health Care‘s family friendly practices here and here.
- Read about Carbon County Higher Education Center‘s family friendly practices here.
There are also numerous long-term benefits when businesses invest in early childhood.
The first step in ensuring a productive workforce for the future is ensuring that today’s kids thrive. Children who participate in quality early childhood programs are more likely to graduate from high school and college, and therefore more likely to have the skills to contribute to a competitive workforce. Today, the cost of not graduating from high school is high. Non-graduates are not competitive for jobs, and make thousands of dollars less per year than their peers who did graduate. Wyoming’s graduating class of 2009 was almost 2000 students short—and the lost lifetime earnings for this class of dropouts alone totals almost $519 million.
Learn more about how early childhood development will affect our workforce:
Businesses: Ask us how you can get involved.
 Knudsen, Eric, Heckman, James J., Cameron, Judy L., Shonkoff, Jack P. (2006). Economic, neurobiological, and behavioral perspectives on building America’s future workforce.
 Belfield, Clive R, and Schwartz, Heather. (2006.) “The Economic Consequences of Early Childhood Education on the School System.” New Brunswick, NJ: National Institute for Early Education Research.
 Center for Child Development. (2007.) “LA 4 Longitudinal Report.” Baton Rouge: Louisiana Department of Education.
 Wat, Albert. (2010). “The Case for Pre-K in Education Reform: A Summary of Program Evaluation Findings.” Washington, DC: Pew Center on the States. http://www.preknow.org/documents/thecaseforprek_april2010.pdf
 Wat, Albert. (2007.) “Dollars and Sense: A Review of Economic Analyses of Pre-K.” Washington, DC: Pew Center on the States. http://www.preknow.org/documents/DollarsandSense_May2007.pdf
 Bartik, Timothy J. (2011.) Investing in Kids: Early Childhood Programs and Local Economic Development. Kalamazoo: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
 U.S. Census Bureau. (2011.) American Community Survey.
 Shellenback, K. (2004). “Child Care and Parent Productivity: Making the Business Case.”
 Wellworks for You. (2012.) “What is the Average Cost of Absenteeism?” http://www.wellworksforyou.com/faq/what-is-the-average-cost-of-absenteeism/