Did you know that 90 percent of a child's brain development happens by the age of 5? These first years are fundamentally important and have significant impact on the trajectory of each young life.
Did you also know that Missouri ranks among the lowest of states—38th—for public pre-K funding? Dr. James Heckman, a Nobel laureate in economics, has research demonstrating that investing in high quality early care and education directly influences economic, health and social outcomes for individuals and society.
Through Youth In Need's work with both older youth, many who are disconnected from family, school and gainful employment, as well as our Head Start and Early Head Start work with very young children and their families, we know that starting ahead is better than catching up.
That's why Youth In Need is endorsing Amendment 3, the Early Childhood Health and Education Amendment. Amendment 3 will provide $300 million annually in new, dedicated funding for investments in early childhood health and education, as well as smoking-cessation programs for pregnant mothers and youth. The funding comes through an incremental increase in Missouri's cigarette tax, which is the lowest in the nation.
Children need to be healthy to learn, and they need to learn to succeed. This initiative will help thousands of Missouri children, as well as set our state on a path toward lower crime, a better economy, and a more educated workforce.