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Pre-kindergarten (pre-K) educational programs and interventions are more than just the first foray into education. These programs can lessen both health and education disparities and provide students the opportunity to enter school ready to learn and achieve more academically.
Years of research led by James Heckman, a Nobel laureate and University of Chicago professor, found that quality early childhood development programs, which includes pre-K, offers substantive benefits both in terms of the economy and of healthier and better prepared students and families. He also found that these programs can directly address the deficits in skills and abilities that are seen within families that lack resources1.
Early childhood programs can be particularly important in low income communities. According to the American Academy of PediatricsTM, children living in households with low incomes can be exposed to more adverse situations and environmental factors that delay or compromise their development and place them at risk for healthy growth and school readiness2.
Generally speaking, the earlier children begin their education, the greater chance they will have to experience a larger return later in life, both in personal achievement as well as overall contributions to society.
Pre-K programs provide children opportunities to achieve school readiness, which can contribute to lifelong employment, greater income, and improved health outcomes.
The Cigna Foundation seeks to fund programs that:
- Improve cognitive and social development of children enrolled in pre-K
- Increase their language, literacy, and math and science abilities
- Foster curiosity, taking initiative, creativity, confidence, persistence, and problem-solving skills
1ERIC, The Economics of Inequality, https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ920516, accessed May 2021
2 Pediatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics, 2019, https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/144/2/e20191766