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Economic and social changes over the past two decades have propelled child care and early childhood education to the top of state legislative agendas across the country. Trends include increased global economic competition, a shifting economic base, changing demographics and an influx of mothers into the workforce. More than half of young children in the United States now spend a significant amount of time in child care and prekindergarten programs.
The demand for competent workers in the 21st century is expected to grow as the actual number of younger workers decreases. Research shows that early childhood education is critical to the nation's future economic position because it provides the next generation of workers with a solid foundation of skills and behaviors that will ensure their success in a technology-based and competitive work environment.
A report released by the National Conference of State Legislatures entitied, Early Childhood Care and Education: An investment That Works, highlights recent legislative efforts to expand early care and education, promote the development of young children, and meet a variety of state policy goals. Among the expanded policy goals are economic development and education, juvenile violence prevention and welfare reform.
According to the 97-page publication, increasing evidence links early learning experiences with school achievement and adult productivity. The High/Scope Perry Preschool Project study of early childhood …