Every child is born with enormous potential. In fact, research shows that a person’s brain has the greatest potential during the earliest years, when 700 neural connections form every second. This rapid growth creates the building blocks for all future success.
Here in Washington and across the country, more and more people are beginning to understand the importance of investing in these early years, working to capitalize on that potential and give our community’s youngest members the strongest start possible.
Early-learning programs are one of the most effective ways to ensure these outcomes for children. Quality early-childhood experiences prepare kids for school and empower them to succeed in the classroom and beyond. They help boost high-school-graduation rates, reduce the need for special education, result in a lifetime of higher earnings and help curb harmful behaviors.
That’s why it’s so encouraging to see King County prioritizing support for early-learning efforts. Through the proposed Best Starts for Kids program, our local leaders are coming together and putting the needs of children and families at the center of their decision-making. In doing so, they are setting an important example for the rest of our nation’s communities, demonstrating how governments can legislate with our collective future success in mind — a future that starts with our kids.
But our opportunity to ensure success for children does not end after early childhood. As communities, we have the ability to stay involved, helping to support children as they learn and grow throughout adolescence and into adulthood.
The Best Starts for Kids initiative would invest in the development of King County children along a continuum, with inflection points at key milestones on the journey to adulthood. By supporting the initiative, we can demonstrate a commitment to the lifelong success of our children and a bright future for our community.
The momentum around early learning that is building here in King County has the potential to shape the way the state and the rest of the country support children and families. The Metropolitan King County Council is scheduled to vote Wednesday on whether to put the initiative on the ballot for county voters to approve in November. As a community, I hope we come together to embrace this opportunity, helping ensure the success of our children here at home and taking an important step toward creating an early-learning nation.
Jackie Bezos, a longtime philanthropist, works to elevate the field of education and improve outcomes for all children.