There are only 2,000 days between the time a baby is born and when that child shows up for the first day of kindergarten. Experiences during these 2,000 days have a lasting impact on later learning, health and success. That is because children’s earliest experiences literally determine how their brains are wired; lay the groundwork for future health; and form the foundation of the social and emotional skills needed for academic and workplace success.

With quality early childhood education, children will be school ready; have higher graduation rates and grow into productive citizens and valuable employees.

Research indicates that a child’s quality of life and the contributions he or she will make to society can be directly traced to the first few years of life, back to those first 2,000 days. We know through research that high quality early education yields higher graduation rates, reduced crime, higher earnings, and better jobs. As a result, economists estimate that every dollar invested in early education produces a 10% return on investment through increased personal achievement and social productivity.

Early childhood investments produced sustained results at the local, state, and national level and are critical to keeping the United States competitive in a global market.

Military leaders have called it a matter of urgent national security; economists have called it critical to America’s competitive future; law enforcement officials have called it a key tool in reducing crime and educators have called it vital to academic success.

National leaders and experts from a wide variety of industries and fields recognize high quality early childhood education as essential to a productive and prosperous future.


ArmyGen. Hugh Shelton, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

"The most important long-term investment we can make for a strong military is in the health and education of the American people. If we want to ensure that we have a strong, capable fighting force, we need to help America’s youth succeed academically, graduate from high school and obey the law. The most reliable way to achieve these goals is by providing at-risk children with quality early childhood education."(Source: POLITICO)

Keith Crisco,North Carolina Secretary of Commerce

"Early education is economic development. It is the best kind."

Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve

"No economy can succeed without a high-quality workforce, particularly in an age of globalization and technical change. Cost-effective K-12 and post-secondary schooling are crucial to building a better workforce, but they are only part of the story. Research increasingly has shown the benefits of early childhood education and efforts to promote the lifelong acquisition of skills for both individuals and the economy as a whole."(Source:No economy can succeed without a high-quality workforce)

Colin Powell,Retired four-star general and former US Secretary of State

"I think education doesn't begin in kindergarten and first grade, it begins when the child can look up at a mother lovingly and look up at a father lovingly.So I think part of our system of reform has to include what we do in those early years of life and not just fixing our schools…If they're not ready to learn by the third grade, they know they're behind. And by the sixth or seventh grade, they're thinking about dropping out. And as soon as they enter high school, they drop out.It is an unacceptable situation, our dropout rate."(Source:Meet the Press, Sept., 10, 2010)

Janet Porter, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston Business Journal, December 9, 2011

"If we are to provide our children with the strong start they deserve, we must increase investments in high-quality early childhood education and focus state attention on preparing children, from birth, to become strong readers."(Source:Eye on early education)

George Burtch, Hasbro Games, Springfield, MA, November 8, 2011

"Every business person in this room: Leave here as an advocate for early childhood education. Leave here saying you, too, believe we need to start prenatally. Make sure the children don’t start behind the 8-ball."(Source: Eye on early education)

Economist James Heckman, Letter to U.S. Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, September 21, 2011

"The United States invests relatively little at the starting point – in early childhood development – and as a consequence pays dearly for this neglect at every point thereafter."(Source: Eye on early education)

Dr. Andrew Meltzoff, co-director, University of Washington Institute for Learning and Brain Science

"There are only 2,000 days between the newborn baby and when that child will show up in kindergarten. It is urgent that we use the best scientific information to make sure we support all our children so they can succeed in school. Our children can’t wait."(Source: Eye on early education)

Dr. Jack Shonkoff, Center on the Developing Child, Boston, July 21, 2011

"For brain development, 3 is like pushing middle age."(Source: Eye on early education)

Ralph Evangelous, Wilmington Chief of Police

"We shouldn’t skimp on the education of our youngest children. It makes a heck of a lot more sense to pay now for quality early learning than to pay much more later for a prison sentence."

From the website is the outgrowth of a series of forums—Smart Investing— held across the state in 2010. More than 800 North Carolinians representing every county in the state invested two days reviewing data, working together, and making tough decisions, to answer this question: What do North Carolinians want for their children?

They came from diverse political parties, demographic backgrounds, and life experiences. They were parents and business leaders, health care providers and elected officials, early childhood professionals and faith leaders, K-12 educators and workforce development experts.  They agreed that ensuring access to high-quality early care and education programs needed to be a top priority for the state. And, they identified public education and engagement on the value of early care and learning as a key strategy in moving forward. provides information about why early care and learning is important and how North Carolinians can engage others on this issue. It was developed by The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc., with a grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.

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