Read more...

This issue area has aimed its focus on early childhood education programs in Alaska. Current research on head start and reading programs suggest that kids who go to preschool substantially improve their performance in elementary school. Recently much funding has gone into supporting these programs in the United States. There are lots of reasons why early childhood education is important to our community.  There are both short-term and long-term gains from investing our time, money and energy in improving the quality and quantity of education our at risk children are receiving.

In a review on the economic benefits of investing in early childhood education Calman and Whelman (2005) stated “Research shows that children who start school behind typically stay behind” (p.11). Quality early education programs provide young children with the social, language, and number skills they need. Children who start Kindergarten ready to learn show better performance through grade school and are more likely to graduate from High School. These programs decrease the cost spent on special education resources and create jobs, and opportunities to work for Mothers who were previously unable to work due to child-care costs (Calman & Whelman, 2005).  There are strong economic returns and strong educational benefits for members of the community at all ages. Investing in our children’s early education is investing in our community, reducing crime rates, and creating jobs in addition to educating our children (Calman & Whelman, 2005).

Anchorage is involved with its children’s education and is working to support its youth through programs like head start.  Head start is a non-profit program for underprivileged kids that provide early learning opportunities. Kids enrolled in head start also receive free medical and dental care, have healthy meals and snacks, and are able to play in an indoor and outdoor setting safely. Head start is available for ages 3-5 in almost every county in the Country. In Anchorage, there are also early head start programs. These programs are available for infants and toddlers. The early head start program is for children six months and older. Parents typically need to be below the poverty line, and be involved in education or have a job in order to use this early head start program. Head start is community oriented and offers many opportunities to parents including parenting trainings, assistance in obtaining a GED, and opportunities for parents to learn English or learn to read.