The evidence is undeniable: attending a quality early learning program is profoundly beneficial for young children, fostering healthy development, increasing thinking and social skills, and improving success in school and throughout life. In California, however, children from low-income communities and communities of color struggle to access early care and education (ECE) programs, with only 33 percent of children under the age of 5 who qualify for subsidized ECE being served. As a result, countless children enter kindergarten ill-prepared to succeed.
During the first five years of a child’s life, 90 percent of brain development occurs and millions of new neural connections form each second. When a child misses out on the intellectual, social, and emotional stimulation that a quality early learning program provides, she can quickly and irreparably fall behind, impacting her success and well-being for years to come. The achievement gap starts at an early age and grows larger as time progresses, further increasing intergenerational inequities across racial lines that, if not addressed early on, will continue to inhibit our communities from reaching our fullest potential. Two primary, inter-connected pillars of the early learning landscape are at the heart of this issue.
- Capacity: Los Angeles County faces an overall lack of capacity in early learning programs.
- Quality: California does not provide adequate support to early learning programs that enable them to fully offer children the quality learning environments necessary to foster cognitive, language, and social skills.