Wake County’s future prosperity is directly tied to how well we prepare children to become successful adults.  There’s a great opportunity for every member of our community to join with Wake County SmartStart and help young children become “citizen ready.”

Why We’re All Stakeholders

“Investing in quality early childhood development for disadvantaged children from birth through age 5 will help prevent achievement deficits and produce better education, health, social and economic outcomes. Such investments will reduce the need for costly remediation and social spending while increasing the value, productivity and earning potential of individuals. In fact, every dollar invested in quality early childhood development for disadvantaged children produces a 7 percent to 10 percent return, per child, per year.”

– Professor James Heckman

Why Start at Birth?

Did you know that the most rapid period of development in human life occurs from birth to five?

The first 2,000 days of life leading up to Kindergarten are critical to the success of each child, not only in school, but in life. During this time, the brain grows through sight, sound, talk and touch. A baby’s brain works on learning how to produce words—months before it will begin to talk!  Every positive experience that a baby has helps its brain form important connections (“synapses”) that will serve as a strong foundation for that child’s future health and learning.

Children are not only developing cognitive skills from birth to five. Social-emotional (or “soft”) skills are equally critical for success in school, work and life.  When children learn how to play with others, they build language skills and learn teamwork. Early exploration develops creative thinking and problem solving skills.

Finally, access to high-quality early care and education can have a positive and lasting impact on the health of children through adulthood. Findings show benefits that include:

  • Improved mental health
  • Less smoking
  • Less substance abuse
  • Regular exercise
  • Improved diet
  • Less obesity
  • Lower risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes

Early Childhood is a Smart Investment

Nobel Laureate Dr. James Heckman calls early childhood programs “one of the highest returns that we have…to make in American society.” 

Children who participate in early childhood programs are more self-sufficient in the future. They grow up to earn more money, pay more taxes and are less dependent on government programs. While there is a wealth of research that points to the long-term overall benefits to participants in early childhood learning programs, the data shows that the majority of those returns are to society – not just to the individual.

Building a Community of Champions

When you become a champion of early childhood care and education, you play a vital role in building a vibrant community. Find out more about how you can personally help ensure that more children are ready for Kindergarten and on a path to lifelong success.