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Speakers: Early education can directly help local economy

ECONOMIC VALUE — Speaker Marti Beard of the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation presents an overview of economic advantages from early childhood education programs in Albion last Tuesday.

Boone County’s economy can benefit directly from quality early childhood education, according to speakers who presented a workshop on that topic Tuesday, Feb. 5, at the Cardinal Inn in Albion.
The educational program focused on the advantages of early childhood education for children, families, business partners and the community as a whole. It was presented to help introduce plans for Boone Beginnings Early Childhood and Family Development Center.
Boone County Foundation Fund, Albion Economic Development Corp. and other partners are working to establish this center in Albion.
Information on Boone Beginnings was presented by Michelle Olson, executive director of the Boone County Development Agency.
In Boone County, limited early childcare availability has been cited often as a key issue, and one that limits economic development and growth in the county.
Olson pointed out that access to reliable and affordable childcare is essential for working families. Additionally, she said, quality care is a top priority for families with young children and, if more available, can be used as a recruitment tool for local businesses.
Some key points were made by Marti Beard, associate vice president of Early Childhood Programs with the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation.
She pointed out study results indicating that children with high quality childhood experiences are more likely to graduate from high school, attend college and earn higher than average wages.
Studies also show that children who receive quality early childhood education are less likely to need educational intervention services, experience teen pregnancy, become incarcerated, or receive government assistance.
Early childhood programs help prepare children for success in school, while also allowing parents to work and contribute to the economic well-being of the community and area.
In Boone County, economic growth is hampered by a significant shortage of high-quality early childcare. and an unemployment rate of less than 2.3 percent.
Having more early childcare and early childhood education available would allow new people to enter the workforce and give communities more powerful recruiting and retention tools, as well as workforce stability.

Read the complete story in the Feb. 13 issue of the Albion News print and e-editions.