An Innovative Model for the Early Years
Co-location of Children’s Services
Whether a child will have a smooth or rocky path into adulthood is largely determined by whether their critical needs are met in the earliest years. More than just education, children have health, nutritional, safety, social and emotional needs that impact their readiness to learn and fully develop into successful, productive citizens as adults. High quality environments that can meet these needs in the early years will set the foundation for a child’s lifelong success.
Florida Underinvests in the Early Years
Although Florida is dedicated to building a 21st century workforce, its systems and supports for young children and their families have not evolved with the times ̶ or the latest early years research.
Rather than investing in high quality supports for children’s early years, Florida spends money disproportionately in K-12 remediation. Despite the good efforts of many, this paradox is leading to a silent crisis since the impacts are often not immediately visible or readily measurable. Children’s lost potential, developmental delays or even educational failure are not realized until years into the future, often in third grade, but sometimes not until much later.
An Innovative Solution
An emerging solution is to co-locate and integrate quality child-serving programs into one location. This eliminates many common barriers and ensures that children from all communities and socio-economic backgrounds receive the emotional, cognitive and societal support necessary for life-long success.
To make this solution a reality, a fully integrated approach to improving access, program quality and service delivery using economically driven investments of public, private and philanthropic funds will be required. This will not only enable more young children to access quality care and education, but will also better support families, improve quality of life and create new economic opportunities in local communities.