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Guide Links Childhood Services, Success of State Goals

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Legislators can find the latest child-development research, strategies, and federal and state policies in a new publication from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The report, "Early Childhood Care and Education: An Investment That Works," emphasizes the link between high-quality services for young children and the success of long-range goals for states, such as a productive workforce, a low crime rate, and healthy families.

State lawmakers need to know "how crucial child care and early-childhood education are to the success of education, welfare reform, delinquency prevention, and economic development," said Scott Groginsky, a policy associate for the N.C.S.L. and one of the authors.

The publication is a guide for state legislatures in formulating policy and programs that work to improve the overall economic health and productivity of the nation.

It highlights relevant statistics and the results of such well-known studies as the High/Scope Perry Preschool Project, which tracked 123 children living in poverty for almost 30 years and found long-term benefits to participation in a high-quality preschool program.

Looking at State Policies

The report also defines elements of high-quality early-childhood programs, outlines strategies for setting effective policy, and points to states that have enacted such policies to meet a variety of goals.

For example, the book says, quality early-childhood programs result in better achievement in school, greater motivation, and higher employment rates.

In the chapter that discusses the implications of early-childhood care on the economy and the labor force, the n.c.s.l. publication showcases states that have provided employers with incentives to make work environments more responsive to the needs of families.

At least 11 states, for example, offer loans to the private sector to increase the supply of child-care services.

Maryland has created 3,561 child-care spaces over the past decade through such loans.

Seventeen states, meanwhile, achieve the same goal through corporate tax credits or deductions.

California, among other states, requires an allocation of space in new state buildings for child-care use.

"The book not only points to successful state-level initiatives," said Mr. Groginsky, "but also by documenting the research and the positive outcomes, it gives legislators more reasons to continue to support these important services."

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