Our Mountain Families

Early education for children under five helps their brains grow and their futures thrive.

The first five years are crucial to a child’s lifelong success. The more quality early childhood education programs we have in our mountain communities, the more opportunities we give our kids to learn, grow and thrive.

Early childhood education builds the foundation for a healthy and productive future – not just for kids, but for parents, families and local businesses too.

Our mountain children, families and local businesses don’t have the early childhood program options we need to succeed. For example, there are only 45 licensed child care options in the entire Eagle River Valley. That’s not nearly enough to serve the estimated 4,300 children under five and their families living in Eagle County.  

What is Early Childhood Education?

Early Childhood Education is a term used to refer to educational programs that serve children in their preschool years, before they enter kindergarten. (Typically ages 0 to 5.)

Early childhood education programs create safe, healthy, nurturing and stimulating environments for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, where they engage in activities and experiences that promote their physical, social, emotional and brain development.

Early childhood education programs may be offered in a variety of settings: preschools and pre-K classrooms, nursery schools, child care centers, or home-based child care. They may be operated by a local school system; a private school, provider or education center; or a state-funded or federally-funded program like Head Start.

Why is Early Childhood Education so important?

Early education matters because children who have access to early childhood education are more likely to do well in school, earn higher wages, live healthier lives, and give back to their community.

In addition to having better-developed life skills like confidence, motivation, self-discipline, and focus, Kids who receive early childhood education are better prepared for kindergarten, read earlier, graduate high school at higher rates, and go to college more often than kids who don’t have access to ECE programs.

Can’t kids just wait until kindergarten to start their education?

No. The first five years of a child’s life, when they are infants and toddlers, are critical to their mental, physical, social, emotional and brain development. The stimulation and educational support they receive from ages 0-5 has a direct effect on the adult they will become, because it impacts their ability to learn and thrive.

A child’s brain development doesn’t wait for kindergarten. 90% of a child’s brain develops by age five. In fact, our brains grow faster between ages 0-3 than any later point in life!

When infants and toddlers are exposed to nurturing educational experiences, it strengthens the architecture of their developing brains, building a strong foundation for future learning, development and behavior.

When young children don’t get the educational support and stimulation they need to fortify their growing brains, this can lead to lifelong developmental, educational, social and health challenges. For example, it can negatively impact a child’s language skills, social development and school performance.

Early childhood education is an investment that provides short and long term benefits for our kids, families and local businesses. Every state dollar invested in early childhood programs yields a return on investment of almost $8.80. The licensed early education industry adds $2.25 to the state economy for every dollar of services purchased in the industry, and enables parents to participate in the state’s workforce, generating $4.4 billion in earnings annually.