On July 16, an exciting announcement was made. Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams announced the County would be partnering with local schools, United Way of Salt Lake, Goldman Sachs, J.B. Pritzker, Granite School District, Park City School District, and Voice for Utah Children to expand early childhood education opportunities for at-risk kids.
Building a strong economy depends on improving results in education and high-quality preschool is a key component to ensuring our children are succeeding every step of the way, from cradle to career. In many communities where United Way of Salt Lake works, as many as six out of 10 children are behind developmentally when they start kindergarten. Too many of these children are never able to catch up without interventions. These partnerships will enable up to 600 low-income children to attend high-quality preschool.
Without high-quality early education opportunities, many of these children will end up in special education, ultimately costing the state and school districts millions of dollars. Results-based financing is a conservative and fiscally responsible solution that builds on private sector innovation and partnerships and focuses on real and lasting results.
Research has proven that high-quality preschool, especially for at-risk kids, produces a wide range of benefits. It increases high school graduation rates, reduces crime, improves healthy outcomes, and closes the achievement gap – which is where taxpayers see the most dollars saved. Granite School District has operated a high-quality preschool program for the past five years and test scores prior to preschool and after third grade confirmed that the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged children and their peers was nearly completely closed. With this partnership, we have now literally changed the odds for these kids!
Thank you to Mayor McAdams and Council, Voices for Utah Children, Granite School District, Goldman Sachs, and J.B. Pritzker for joining this important and innovative effort. Investing in early education programs will create long-term benefits that we all can enjoy.