ON-Lion Letter
"Early childhood education is one of the most cost-effective and potent economic development tools available," according to a March report from the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI).  "Investment in young children supports economic development by boosting the long-run productivity of the labor force and reducing public costs.  In the cold calculus of economic analysis, repeated studies have not only confirmed the long-term value of early childhood education, but its economic payback has been estimated as high as $16 for every $1."

The Economic Power of Early Childhood Education in Wisconsin was researched and written by Rob Grunewald and Don Bezruki.  Grunewald is an associate economist at The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.  Bezruki is a former director of the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau.

"Early childhood education programs can provide high rates of return," they write, when they "are of proven high quality," "reach children in greatest need, such as children in poverty," and "reach children well before they start kindergarten."

In the report, Grunewald and Bezruki recommend that YoungStar, a state program to improve the quality of child care, "[i]mplement strategies to significantly increase parental involvement," "[e]valuate the potential for significant quality improvement among existing providers to determine whether current incentives and penalties are most effectively structured," "[s]ignificantly increase business community support and active participation," and "[s]treamline and reformulate governance and include input from economic development professionals."

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supports WPRI.
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