West Virginia Executive Summer 2014 - Page 45

spending on preventable problems, as well as higher productivity and earnings as adults. Nobel prize-winning economist James Heckman analyzed studies of various kinds of investments in human development from prenatal to post-high school education. He found, and other economists concur, that the earlier the investment in child development, the greater the return, with the highest returns estimated for infants and toddlers. In West Virginia, the Center for Business and Economic Research at Marshall University estimated the long-term benefit of high-quality early childhood programs at $5.20 for each dollar invested. The study noted four major benefits to the state’s economy: increasing the capacity of children to become more productive workers and citizens, providing quality child care so that parents can work, providing a major industry with a significant number of jobs and producing returns on investment to public and private money in excess of returns to other economic development programs. Task at Hand To take full advantage of the many benefits of early learning, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin created the Early Childhood Planning Task Force in 2013. The task force, in collaboration with the state’s Early Childhood Advisory Council, is creating a plan for a statewide system that improves child outcomes from birth to age R