United Way of Southern Nevada (UWSN) released the third report in its Community Report Series, “Early Education in Southern Nevada.” According to the report, expanding access to affordable child care will help children enter school ready to learn and will help parents earn more through more regular employment.
Nevada is ranked 51st in the nation for enrollment in early education. In Clark County, seven out of ten children between the ages of three and four years old are not enrolled in early education centers.
“Our goal is to help more children access a quality early education so that they can start school prepared,” said Elaina Mulé, Vice President, Collective Impact and Social Innovation
United Way of Southern Nevada. “By increasing the number of children in early education, we can also ensure that parents in the workforce are empowered and supported.”
According to the report, by the time children enter kindergarten, over one in three students lack the basic language skills needed to learn how to read. Oftentimes, children’s early vocabulary skills are linked to their economic backgrounds. By the time children from low-income families enter kindergarten, they are often already 12-14 months behind national benchmarks. By age three, there is a gap of 30 million words between children from higher-income and lower-income families. Enrolling children in early education and reading at home helps them develop the language and listening skills necessary to read on their own, preparing them for success in elementary school. This is especially important in the early years of a child’s life, as a child’s brain develops to 85% of capacity by age 5.
Early education programs also support working parents.
The cost of child care is often challenging for Southern Nevada’s families. Often, families make the tough decision to forgo child care to afford the basic essentials like housing, transportation, nutritious food, and healthcare. Child care assistance, like UWSN’s child care scholarships, can help families receive support before social assistance is needed.
Based on the report’s findings, parents receiving child care assistance are more likely to be employed and more likely to have stable employment. Parents receiving subsidies are less likely to face child care interruptions that can lead to absences or other scheduling disruptions, and earn as much as $7,500 more per year than those who had occasionally received subsidies.
In order for Southern Nevada to reach its potential of kindergarten readiness and increased earnings for parents, community members can participate in public meetings and support initiatives that would expand child care assistance including universal pre-Kindergarten and Read by Grade 3.
More information about early education in Southern Nevada and other Southern Nevada information is available through Community Connect, United Way’s new online information hub at uwsn.org/CommunityConnect.