Position – Early Childhood Education
All Missouri children should have access to high quality early childhood and pre-school education. All early childhood centers and pre-schools must be safe, promote healthy behaviors, foster literacy and support social and emotional growth.
This requires a quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) for all early childhood education facilities in the state, without exceptions or exemptions. Childcare licensing standards must apply to all such facilities equally and must include standards for curriculum, educational materials and safety. The ratings information must be easily available and clearly presented for use by parents of prospective students.
There is strong scientific evidence that early brain development is critical to subsequent development and education. The greatest growth occurs within the first five years and the benefits of early childhood education last throughout life. Students in such programs are more likely to avoid early pregnancy, avoid criminal behavior, complete high school, be steadily employed—in general, succeed in life.
The quality of teachers, programs, facilities and equipment of early childhood education facilities in Missouri is very uneven and the overall level of quality must be improved to meet or exceed uniform standards.
OUR ADVOCACY POINTS
Missouri should fund and implement universal pre-K education for 3 to 5 year-old children.
Pre-K programs should be offered in schools and community early education centers.
The Missouri quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) now under development must be completed as soon as possible and must be designed so that families can make easy comparisons when making education choices for their children.