West Virginia Executive Summer 2014 - Page 43

The Earlier, The Betterof Early The Importance Childhood Education Better child outcomes lead to fewer costs for remedial programs, higher college-going rates and a stronger work force. By Julie Pratt Imagine two children. The first is Casey, whose mother was thrilled to learn she was pregnant for the first time. She received early and regular care from her obstetrician. She and her husband found good advice about child development from a home visiting program. Casey was born full-term and healthy. When his mother returned to work, she took him to a child care center near their home that had a good reputation. When Casey turned 4 years old, his parents enrolled him in the public prekindergarten program offered at his child care center. The second child, Brandon, was the youngest of three children. While pregnant, his mother missed appointments with her obstetrician because she had used up her sick leave at work. She cut back on her smoking but wasn’t able to kick the habit entirely. Brandon was born two weeks early and underweight. He and his sisters stayed with their grandmother when their mother returned to work. When Brandon turned 4, his father drove him 15 miles to the nearest prekindergarten program when he wasn’t on the road for his job. When the two boys entered kindergarten, Casey was at or above average on most measures of development while Brandon lagged behind. Every summer, Casey went to day camps and other programs that furthered his learning. Brandon’s grandmother had books and art supplies, but Brandon and his sisters preferred watching TV. Brandon was struggling with reading by the fourth grade, began skipping school in the eighth grade and dropped out his junior year in high school. Casey graduated with his class and enrolled in a university. On their 30th birthdays, ExEdge Casey was an environmental engineer with a local firm and '&