Early Childhood & Postsecondary Education Advance Economic Mobility

In our Guide to Economic Mobility, we examine the need for high-quality, affordable early childhood and postsecondary education.

All children can benefit from responsive, stimulating curricula and classroom environments in their early years. This is especially true for children from low-income and dual-language backgrounds. Yet, high-quality preschool is financially out of reach for many. Nationally, the average cost of providing preschool ranges from $4,700 (part day) to $8,600 (full day). Tuition charge to parents can be even higher.

Related: Investing in Education Will Boost Colorado’s Economy

As such, many children don’t attend preschool, or instead attend lower-quality programs or child care options. This means a significant number of Colorado children lack access to critical early childhood learning experiences that could lead to increased success and opportunity in adulthood.

When it comes to postsecondary education, rapid advances in automation have an increasingly profound impact on jobs, and therefore, education and training. By 2020, 74 percent of all jobs in Colorado will require some level of postsecondary education and training, including targeted skills programs, short- and long-term certificates, and two-year and four-year degrees. However, estimates say in the same year, the work-related knowledge of a postsecondary graduate will have a “shelf life” of less than five years.

To meet this challenge, there is broad consensus postsecondary education and job training must fundamentally modify its approach to what it does, how it does it, who it does it for, and who provides it to ensure future learners are robot-proof in our emerging workforce and society. Adapting our current strategy on learning will provide more Coloradans with the opportunity to earn more, avoid unemployment, and build a stronger state economy.

Looking through a two-generation lens, state investments in early care and education help parents invest in their own development through educational activities and further engagement in the workforce. Effectively serving Colorado’s children during their earliest years not only yields downstream societal savings in the future, but also provides immediate support to parents. Research also shows when both children and parents are engaged in education, the effects on low-income families moving out of poverty are even greater.

The Bell’s type of two-generation approach — one that intentionally links adult education, job training, workforce development, and postsecondary education for low-income parents with early childhood education for children — finds both kids and parents positively benefit. Advancing this approach is important because it emphasizes long-term investments to build human capital for both children and adults.

To learn more about the Bell’s specific recommendations for both early childhood and postsecondary education, read our education section in the Guide to Economic Mobility in Colorado.


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