Public Policy Forum Blog

Early Childhood Education as an Anti-Poverty Priority

When it comes to antipoverty strategies, efforts related to early childhood education and child care rise to the top for many researchers.

In the inaugural issue of Pathways magazine, poverty researcher Rebecca Blank features her priority list of top anti-poverty strategies. Out of her six recommendations, two relate directly to early childhood education and child care; two others address children in some way. According to Blank, many potential solutions for eliminating poverty should be implemented early in life when the chances for making a difference are greatest.

To combat poverty, Blank recommends two hallmarks of early childhood education success: a guaranteed pre-kindergarten program for all four-year-olds from low-income families, and expanded child care subsidies for low-income families.

Blank stresses broadening the EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) subsidy for individuals not living with children, particularly for fathers of poor children. She writes, “[I]f their lives are more economically stable they will be better able to help raise their children and this will help stabilize the communities in which they live.”

In her most unconventional antipoverty recommendation, Blank encourages the government to work to provide every low-income family with low-cost Internet access so that “children are ready to live and work in an interconnected world.”

Two additional recommendations are encouraging candidates to be spokespeople for the poor, and using demonstration projects instead of new program models.

Blank’s priority list underscores how early childhood education is not just a schooling or a parenting issue; rather, it could be key to antipoverty efforts. The Public Policy Forum is continuing its multi-year research project focusing on early childhood education policy in the southeast Wisconsin region.