Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Stimulus with Staying Power


By Lauren Waits

The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 was signed amid a flurry of speculation over its scope and impact. Questions persist about how Americans in general will benefit through federal stimulus spending for infrastructure and transportation projects, job creation and state budget stabilization. Little has been said, however, about the one population who could benefit the most from the package and provide a return to long-term growth: children.

We know that the early years are critical to a child’s healthy development. Neuroscientists can now show us that the quality of children's earliest experiences shape their brain architecture in permanent ways-for better and for worse. So when children, especially high risk children, receive care that is nurturing, supportive and based on their unique needs early on, we can put them on a course for success over their lifetimes. Key provisions of the stimulus bill contain investments designed to assure that infants, toddlers and preschoolers get what they need to thrive.

It's now up to us to make sure these available funds are deployed correctly for maximum impact and return on that investment. Our youngest children depend on three groups -- parents, businesses and the state – to claim their share of the stimulus funds and ensure their ability to contribute to a renewed nation as they grow.