The value of investing in childhood education
A recent report from the Conference Board of Canada provides compelling evidence that increasing Canada’s access to early childhood education programs up to the OECD average, would create approximately a 3 dollar return on every dollar spent by 2050.
The report, Ready for Life; Socio-Economic Benefit of Expanding Early Childhood Education, examines the potential costs and benefits of expanding access to early childhood education for Canadian families with children of age 2-4.
While Canada does well compared to other OECD countries in relation to most education indicators of achievement and access, the country is below OECD averages for access to early childhood education. Currently only 58% of Canadian children below age 5 have access to ECE programs – far below the OECD average of 70%.
While the initial increase in education investment would be significant, the report estimates that expanding access to ECE programs for children age 2-4 would allow 134,000 more children to access ECE, move 23,000 families out of poverty, and increase the female workforce by 58,000 people.
Greater access to ECE programs would also have significant impact on education outcomes for students in poverty, by providing them with opportunities to build essential school readiness capacities in areas such as relationship building, self-awareness, problem solving, and resilience.