Letters to the Editor

State legislators must fund school readiness programs

As Florida’s annual Children’s Week (March 26-31) winds down — a celebration of the commitment the state makes to our children — state leaders also are called on to recognize issues and support legislation that strengthens the focus and impact of children.

Research shows children who attain high-quality early education demonstrate higher academic achievement, and are less prone to repeat a grade or require special education classes.

Furthermore, Art Rolnick and Rob Grunewald, co-author’s of the 2003 study, “Early Childhood Development: Economic Development with a High Public Return,” found the public benefit of high-quality preschools is more than $8 for every $1 invested. Investing in school readiness not only benefits children, but also boosts long-term economic growth.

Recognizing the importance of early education, Gov. Rick Scott is recommending $1.1 billion in funding for early child education and care. If approved, this funding will provide young children and working families preschool tuition assistance and Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) services. Additional funding is especially important in Miami-Dade, where we serve more young children than any other area in Florida.

The Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe funds and manages quality early education programs that ensure every young child across both counties is prepared to succeed in school and life.

We hold some of the lowest overhead and administrative costs, and higher spending on direct educational services statewide.

We urge legislators to increase school readiness and VPK funding, and improve industry standards. Through this increase, we can work to ensure every child in Florida is healthy, ready to learn and can achieve their full potential.

Evelio C. Torres,

President and CEO,

Early Learning Coalition of

Miami-Dade/Monroe

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