Early Childhood Summit To Be Held April 4

March 24, 2005

by Julie Campbell Carlson

A summit to educate the community about the importance of the early childhood years on a child's development and ways to ensure good outcomes that will benefit the child's and the community's future will be held Monday, April 4, at Eastland Lakes Conference Center.

Baylor University's School of Social Work and departments of family and consumer science and educational psychology and The Early Childhood Coalition, McLennan County Partners for Young Children, will host The "Early Childhood Summit: Investing in the Future of Our Youngest Children" from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

"This effort is similar to the campaigns that are happening all across the country," said Pam Wilder, director of Baylor's Piper Center for Family Studies and Child Development. "After many years of work and especially the work of the neuroscientists in the area of brain development, we now have empirical evidence that the first five years of life are the most critical years in young children's development."

Wilder cites the results of long term studies that followed children who received comprehensive education and care services along with education for their parents, the most famous study being the Perry Preschool Project. The results of that study concluded that there has been a $17 return on every $1 spent on the early education and care of children under the age of five. Moveover, these children are more likely to be college graduates, successful workers, home owners, married, and have fewer encounters with the criminal justice system than their peers in the control group.

"The results have attracted the attention of economists like [Baylor's] Dr. Beck Taylor to examine the impact an investment at a young age has on our economy down the road," Wilder said. "Large national business firms have been involved in nationwide efforts to improve the quality of child care. This new campaign across the country is broader than child care. It includes early education, health care, family and community violence, nutrition, and parent education."

The featured speaker at the summit will be Dr. James Caccamo, director of the Metropolitan Council on Early Learning in Kansas City, Mo. Former chair of the Mental Health Commission for the State of Missouri, Caccamo is widely sought out as a consultant in the areas of children and youth development, early education, public policy and advocacy around children and youth issues. He will share successful examples from the Kansas City area of partnerships formed among child and family service agencies, churches, business, medicine, schools, and government to create a community that is committed to ensuring that all children receive the support they need for healthy development and readiness to succeed in school.

The summit is free and open to the public and is made possible by funding from the LGR Foundation of Houston through Baylor's Say Yes to Access Project grant and the Ann and Roane Lacy Jr. Family Donor Advised Fund. For reservations or more information, call 710-4373.

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