Many Wilmington-area citizens are busy spreading awareness of the importance of the first 2,000 days—or five years—of a child’s brain development. This week, faith leaders addressed early childhood at a local summit; however, the statewide First 2,000 Days campaign—the first of its kind—has been in effect since 2011. And it’s not just geared toward parents and those who work with young children--communities at large benefit from the “spillover effect” of a quality first 2,000 Days.
Those counties that channel more funding into early childhood education programs such as Smart Start, or NC Pre-K, later report higher school scores and lower special ed placement--and less crime and more community involvement. This is according to Tracy Zimmerman, director of strategic communications for the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation.
"Everybody wants to do right by kids, and helping people to understand, not only that it’s the right thing to do, but how it is inextricably linked to other issues that are also paramount, like our economy, like jobs, is the work we’ve been trying to do through First 2,000 Days."
Proponents of the campaign include military generals, business leaders, clergy, and educators, but Zimmerman says those who work in law enforcement are among the most supportive.
"Because they really understand, and they see it everyday, what happens when children aren’t getting the experiences they need at a young age to develop optimally, and to thrive."
While Zimmerman says The First 2,000 Days functions as an awareness campaign, she also notes that funding for Smart Start, the state’s largest early childhood initiative, has been cut by more than a third in the past decade--a time during which the state’s amount of children living in poverty has increased.
***For more information about Smart Start of New Hanover County, click here.