Florida mayors call for greater focus on early childhood development

Published: Feb. 22, 2019 at 4:02 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
By: Mariel Carbone | WCTV Eyewitness News

February 22, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) — Mayors from across the state are urging Governor Ron DeSantis to invest more in early childhood development.

On Thursday, The Children’s Movement of Florida delivered a letter to Governor DeSantis asking him to make early childhood development a priority this legislative session. 101 mayors signed the letter, including John Dailey in Tallahassee.

The letter reads in part, “We take seriously the responsible stewardship of our constituents’ tax dollars. We know that prioritizing early childhood development is a wise investment in Florida’s future prosperity.”

"Look, anytime we can help the youngest members of our community we all benefit,” said Mayor Dailey. "Most of the development, human development, takes place in the earliest years of our lives. So it's important that we create the environment and we dedicate the resources so that all children can flourish."

According to the Children’s Movement of Florida, less than two percent of the state budget is dedicated to programs that benefit early childhood development. Yet, experts have said that time period is crucial to a person’s overall life.

"It really sets the tone for who our youngest citizens will be as adults,” said Matt Guse, CEO of the Florida Children’s Council.

Guse said many of the skills currently missing in the workforce, like communication and teamwork, are learned as a child.

"You learn to be patient, you learn to wait your turn, you learn to communicate,” he said.

The letter does not specify a dollar amount or specific programs the governor should focus on. But rather, states that support for early learning initiatives, more widespread health care or greater access to parenting support resources all have the same positive result.

“A state that prioritizes children will reap rewards over time with a better workforce and lower crime,” said the letter.”

Guse said it is promising to see so many mayors from all parts of the state recognizing the importance of early childhood development.

"We have this time at the most influential moment of all of our lives to really make a difference, and we have to invest in that,” he said.