High-quality early education affects economic opportunity of parents and children

On May 4, we hosted an event in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to explore the role business leaders in our community should play in providing high-quality early education in our region. This half-day convening included research on the short and long-term effects of pre-k, an examination of early education programs across the Middle Tennessee region, and a conversation around lessons to be learned from peer cities.

The Nashville community has started to address the need to improve student outcomes through early intervention, particularly since the release of the Blueprint for Early Childhood Success. This plan aims to double the amount of third graders reading on grade level by 2025. Currently, only 34% of the third graders in Metro Nashville Public Schools read on grade level. This metric is an important indicator for student success both in school and in later life. Early interventions, like improvements to early education, have a good chance of improving outcomes for the next generation.

Early childhood education is an important factor in the economic success of parents as well. Without reliable and affordable childcare parents can have a difficult time participating fully in the economy. In fact, childcare issues cost U.S. businesses $3 billion every year and contribute to worker absenteeism. In a six-month period, nearly half of parents will miss an average of 4.3 days of work due to childcare issues. Over the course of a year, that’s nearly two full work weeks missed, just because of childcare breakdowns.

Like employee health and wellness, this issue will continue costing Nashville businesses and cutting into their bottom lines. But, if addressed, childcare solutions can actually make businesses more competitive in the battle for highly skilled workers. Studies have found that when companies provide childcare, absenteeism decreases by up to 30% and employee turnover decreases by up to 60%.

As the need for talented, highly-skilled employees continues to expand and competition for these workers becomes more intense, early education is an issue that can affect both the workforce of today and the workforce of tomorrow. Early education sets children up for success while also allowing parents to participate fully in the workforce.

If you are interested in learning more about how your business can get involved, download the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s guide for businesses looking to tackle this problem. You can also get involved in education work at the Nashville Chamber by contacting our Policy team

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