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NEW REPORT: Helping Children Thrive Helps Everyone: Investments in Early Childhood Pay Off Over Time

Jul 28, 2022

Washington, DC – Today, the House Budget Committee released a new report highlighting expert testimony and findings from a recent hearing on the importance of federal investments in early childhood.

The report highlights how investments in children provide benefits in both the immediate term and over the course of their lives, and outlines some of the most effective policies the federal government can implement to benefit children. These include tax policies like the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit, high-quality childcare and pre-K programs, and investments in nutrition assistance like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“Supporting our youngest Americans is one of the most concrete ways we can set our nation up for success,” said Chairman Yarmuth. “It’s no coincidence that, just as U.S. education rankings have decreased by international standards over the past three decades, so have our federal investments in children. The Child Tax Credit, childcare, and nutrition assistance are ‘investments’ because they pay off — literally — for children, for their families, our society, and for our economy.

“There is convincing evidence that providing more support during childhood leads to significant improvements in health, education, and labor market outcomes in adulthood” said Dr. Hilary Hoynes, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the University of California and a witness at the hearing. “The social safety net for children is an investment that can pay back benefits over the longer term, both to the children as they move through their lives as well as to society and the economy as a whole.”

“Over the past 50 years, WIC has become an essential public health component of the American society,” said Dr. Maureen Black, Distinguished Fellow in Early Childhood Development at RTI International and a Professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “WIC’s responsiveness to unprecedented and unanticipated environmental challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the infant formula shortage, and the increase in children’s excess weight gain, illustrates the critical role that WIC plays in promoting equity and preventing further disparities by protecting young children in low-income families.”

“When it comes to making commitments in the federal budget towards evidence-based early childhood policies, we have fallen short as a nation. The U.S. invests a smaller percentage of our GDP in child care and early education than almost every other developed economy in the world,” said Mr. Rasheed Malik, Senior Director of Early Childhood Policy at the Center for American Progress. “There is a growing consensus among economists and policy analysts that investing in early care and education isn’t merely a positive benefit for children — it’s a long-term cost saver that helps pay for itself in the form of higher tax revenues and increased productivity. Investments in the child care sector both create and enable job growth.”

A PDF of report can be found here.