Addressing the Achievement Gap: The Earliest Intervention
"In recent months, President Obama has reignited the national conversation about early childhood education by proposing universal preschool for 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families. But with much of a child's brain development occurring in the first three years of life, advocates at the Ounce and elsewhere say even that is too late, thrilled though they are by the preschool proposal. Poor babies as young as 9 months show a gap in cognitive development compared with wealthier peers, a gap that triples by the time they are 2 years old."
Dell and I are strong proponents of home visiting programs. They are not easy on staff,they require extraordinary staff sensitive to cultural differences. But the need for guidance and mentorship for both mothers and babies is huge--Lou
Excerpt: "We can remediate 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds, or we can get them right from the beginning," said Diana Rauner, president of the Ounce, a $48.5 million organization that provides training and funnels public funding to 32 home visiting and doula (birth coaching) programs around Illinois, among numerous initiatives. "The remediation doesn't work so well, even at that age."
So how to get it right from the start? The crux of home visiting work is relationship building with a mother and, by extension, an entire family. To begin to alleviate poverty's devastating effects on a child's development, the thinking goes, a family needs a positive frame of reference for relationships. Provide a young mother whose life may be filled with chaos and drama with the opportunity to be heard and valued. Arm her with the information she needs to speak up in institutional settings, whether a hospital delivery room or a kindergarten class, and in personal relationships. Show her how to develop a baby's vocabulary through reading, singing and stimulating conversation--starting in utero. Guide her to nurture her child and herself..."