Parents’ Understanding More About Early Childhood
By: Business Wire
Findings from a recent statewide survey show that money spent educating parents in California about the importance of early childhood development has been extremely effective.
"The majority of parents understand the importance of the early childhood years. Now we need to help policy makers understand this and ask them to shift funds to where they do the most good -- the early years," said Karen Bodenhorn, president and CEO of the California Center for Health Improvement (CCHI).
CCHI recently commissioned The Field Institute to survey parents in California, asking them the same question on early childhood development that was asked in 1997, for the purpose of seeing if statewide education efforts, largely as a result of Prop 10, had been successful. Both surveys were funded by a grant to The Field Institute from The California Wellness Foundation as part of the Health Improvement Initiative.
The results show a dramatic increase since 1997 in parents' understanding of the critical nature of a child's early years.
- In 2000, a large majority of parents (76 percent) in California said that the greatest amount of brain development occurs in a child's first three years--up from 54 percent in 1997.
- More than 71 percent of Latino parents - the largest group of parents in California - were aware of the importance of brain development in the child's first three years. This is up from 46 percent in 1997.
- A significant increase in awareness was observed among two other subgroups of California parents: younger parents and those with lower levels of education.
- Awareness among younger parents--those ages 18 to 29--increased from 50 percent in 1997 to 86 percent in 2000.
- Awareness among parents with a high school graduation or less increased from 45 percent in 1997 to 68 percent in 2000.
CCHI's Brain Development: Nearly Half of California Parents Unaware of Important First Three Years (July, 1998), summarized scientific studies in the last decade that indicate:
CCHI's 1997 survey revealed that:
- A third (33 percent) of California parents surveyed said they were not very or not at all prepared for parenting when they became parents. Another third, (36 percent) said they were only somewhat prepared.
- CCHI's 1997 survey - coupled with numerous scientific studies that mirrored the survey results - revealed parents need more information, parenting support and quality childcare services.
MONEY SPENT ON EDUCATION IS WORKING
Many organizations worked together to build public support for Proposition 10 - the California Children and Families Act - in 1998.
The goal of Prop 10 -- funded by a 50-cent tax increase on tobacco products -- is to promote, support and improve the early development of children from prenatal to age five. The funds generated by Prop 10:
- Support commissions in 58 California counties designed to initiate programs supportive of children zero to five, their health, parental support and childcare.
- Have made possible statewide media campaigns -- totaling $25 million-- that are intended to educate Californians about the importance of early childhood development and other Prop 10-related issues.
Statements from the President of CCHI
"Policy makers need to understand what parents, teachers, healthcare professionals and law enforcement leaders already know -- that money spent on pre-school age children's programs is critical. Tax dollars re-directed at children zero to five for childcare, parental support and healthcare will provide more long term benefits to Californians than dollars spent on children at any other age -- school age children, young adults, and the juvenile court system." -- Karen Bodenhorn, president and CEO of CCHI
"Although three out of four parents now understand the importance of a child's early years, one in four do not. That's a large number. There is a lot of work to be done and we need to finish the job." -- Karen Bodenhorn, president and CEO of CCHI