It Makes Cents

At First 5, Early Care & Education is one of two prime focus areas. Research and practice has shown us that as a community, we must invest in improving quality and increasing access to high quality, affordable early care and education for all children.

Return on Investment

Research has consistently shown that investing in early care and education addresses some of the most persistent problems we face as a community. As a result of high quality early care and education, we can expect:

  • lower K-12 education costs because more youth advance grades on time, reduced costs for special education placements
  • lower welfare program costs
  • lower unemployment spending
  • lower arrest rates
  • lower foster youth placements due to abuse and neglect
  • lower health care costs
  • lower rates of poverty
  • higher high school graduation levels
  • higher earnings
  • higher home ownership rates
  • higher rates of marriage and length of marriage
  • higher tax revenues

Studies show both immediate and long-term pays offs when communities invest in high quality early childhood education. Some examples:

  • For every dollar invested in early care and education in Kansas, an additional 68 cents are generated for a total of $1.68 in new spending in the state. This strong economic boost for local businesses is higher than investments in other sectors such as retail trade, transportation, construction and manufacturing. Ready Nation Report: Strengthening Kansas Business Though Investments in Early Care and Education
  • For every $1 invested in a Chicago early childhood education program, nearly $11 is projected to return to society over the children’s lifetimes. Age 26 Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Child-Parent Center Early Education Program
  • Georgia’s lottery-funded pre-kindergarten program was estimated to save the state $212.9 million over six calendar years. The benefits to private citizens and to local, state, and federal governments would produce within four decades a return of $5.12 for every $1 of lottery funds spent on Georgia pre-K as a high-quality program available to all four-year-olds in the state. Promise of Georgia Pre-K: Building Life-Long Education, Current Budget Savings and Long-Term Economic Growth in Hard Times
  • Michigan’s Great Start Readiness Program, which supports preschool for at-risk children, has saved the state at least $1 billion over the past 25 years. Citizens Research Council of Michigan Early Childhood Education
  • A study conducted over 40 years of the famous Perry Preschool Program found that society got back $16 for every tax dollar invested in the early care and education program. HighScope Perry Preschool Study
  • A study evaluating 49 state and district public preschool programs demonstrated that they “have an expected net present value of $22,236 per student. We estimate returns of approximately $4 for every dollar invested in these programs. The level of investment risk is relatively low; we find that there is a 91% chance that the investment at least breaks even.” Early Childhood Education for Low-Income Students: A Review of the Evidence and Benefit-Cost Analysis
  • It’s not just in the US. UNICEF highlights reports that demonstrate that 73 countries have demonstrated benefits, with future wages increasing $6.40-$17.60 per dollar invested.
  • Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California reports detail how “our communities pay dearly for every young person allowed to follow a path that leads to becoming a criminal adult. Every baby who grows up to drop out of school, become a drug addict, and commit frequent crimes costs an average of $2.5 million to society. California spends $11.2 billion a year on state corrections for adult offenders alone. Failure is expensive, and not just in dollars.” Early Education Cuts Crime and Saves Money

Investing in early care and education makes sense for children, families, employers and communities. Learn what you can do now to advocate for high quality accessible child care for all.