Over the past several weeks, we have observed an unprecedented level of support for high-quality early childhood education from leaders representing a broad range of community sectors, including education, business, law enforcement and nonprofit human-services.
Each has provided cogent, compelling arguments in favor of creating the opportunity for low income children of a developmentally critical age to have access to high-quality preschool education.
And of course, while individual counter examples may be found, plenty of national studies validate that immediate as well as long-term beneficial outcomes result from a community’s early and sustained investment in children, including improved readiness for kindergarten and primary school, better health, higher earnings, lower incidence of future engagement with criminal justice and public assistance systems, and a more highly skilled and educated workforce.
Currently serving 186,000 food-insecure people in Southern Arizona — the majority of whom have jobs and desire to be self-sufficient — the mission of the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona incorporates two distinct but interconnected commitments: to serve community members who need stop-gap food assistance today for their families, and to also work in partnership with others to end the underlying causes of hunger and poverty, including our community’s high rates of under-employment and educational under-investment.
Consequently, our governing board of diverse community leaders wholeheartedly supports the Pima County Preschool Incentive Program (PCPIP) because it can mitigate some of the underlying factors of our region’s devastatingly high, persistent poverty, thereby moving us closer toward our vision of a healthy, hunger-free community for all.
Michael McDonald is CEO of the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.