Statistics on early childhood care and adult success.

By Negin Ascher
Negin AscherWhen life gets crazy, it’s easy to miss opportunities to nurture our youngest children. In fact, statistics indicate that very few Americans truly understand the impact of a child’s earliest years. In California, the state’s financial commitment to early care and education declines with each successive round of budget cuts.

Yet, we know now that there is a biological window of development that, once past, can hardly be revisited. We know that the earliest years are the time of greatest development and brain formation and the best predictors of eventual educational attainment, social contributions and even happiness.

  • As the founder of a child advocacy non-profit, I’ve delved into the statistics surrounding early childhood care and education, and have assembled below some of the more meaningful findings:
  • By age 4, 85% of a child’s brain is developed. At no other point in time is a child’s brain so open to learning about and understanding the world.
  • Children of caregivers who are especially nurturing have significantly larger hippocampi (plural of hippocampus – you have one on each side of your brain), which better prepares a person to handle stresses and strains in life.
  • Studies have shown that the brains of children in nurturing, less stressful environments are up to double the size of young brains that are regularly subjected to high stress environments.
  • By the age of 24 months, the vocabulary of children whose mothers speak to them frequently is triple that of children whose mothers speak to them less frequently.
  • The nation’s increasing high school dropout rates and flat college attendance rates are correlated with characteristics primarily shaped during ages 0 to 5 – student motivation, ability to work with others, self esteem, and mental and physical health.
  • Enriching children’s early environments is an investment with a higher rate of return than the post World War II stock market (7-10% per year, based on evaluations of intervention programs targeting disadvantaged preschoolers, versus a 5.8% return on stock market equity)
  • The rate of return on later remediation programs (e.g., active labor market programs, class size reductions, adult literacy programs, tuition reduction policies, etc.) is dramatically lower and often negative, indicating that early intervention is the key

Moms are the ones who can best relate to these facts – and do something about them. Please share this information with others to promote awareness of how critical the early years are, and to stimulate conversations on how each of us can play a part in ensuring that every child gets off to the right start.

Negin Ascher is the Founder & Executive Director of Nurture Now. To learn more about Nurture Now or how you can make a difference, please visit or call (310) 295-2063 to have Nurture Now speak at your school or center.