Developed as part of a case study presentation at the Alliance for Innovation’s 2013 National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, this iBook serves as the research basis for the argument that local governments should invest in early childhood education as part of a larger economic development strategy. The book offers evidence for the high public cost and negative societal implications of a failure to invest in the first five years of life, when a child’s brain develops most rapidly. It explores the research-based claim that, through adequate investment in programs that increase children’s access to high-quality early learning experiences, local and state governments can potentially see a return on investment of up to 7-10%. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, this would translate to a cost savings of $2 billion over the next 17 years.
The iBook was created by the office of Virginia Beach GrowSmart, the City of Virginia Beach’s early learning initiative. GrowSmart has gained national recognition, including an Outstanding Achievement in Local Government Innovation Award from the Alliance for Innovation, for its forward-thinking model of aligning early childhood education efforts with local economic development strategy. In 2011, Virginia Beach took the official position that early childhood education is primarily a workforce development issue and moved GrowSmart from its former home in Public Libraries to its current location within the Department of Economic Development. Read about this strategic move in the iBook and how other local governments can move toward a similar model.