We used to have a perspective on child care that it was just Play-doh and crayons. Now we know that the experiences children have in early life are helping to form how their brains develop. As a nation we can do better, and there is a real urgency to invest in the lives of children. Investment isn’t a choice, rather a necessity for current and future generations.
As a Primary Care Pediatrician at Boston Medical Center and a trained social epidemiologist, I’ve spent a lot of time focusing, from a research perspective, on adversity in early life and how it impacts health over the life course.
I support many vulnerable families who have poor child care options. Finding and affording high-quality child care is a priority (and often a challenge) for all families, regardless of income level, however there is a huge disparity when it comes to access. Quality child care is truly beneficial for all children and unfortunately not everyone has access. This has to change.
Children experience a lot of direct and indirect health benefits as a result of high-quality child care. A child who has access to high-quality child care gets to go outside, have nutritious meals, experience a structured routine, and participate in enrichment and educational activities. Because child care centers tend to require up-to-date immunizations and physical exams, the children tend to be on time for all of their healthcare maintenance as well. Parents can receive important advice from well-educated and experienced child care providers. They can receive social supports and a variety of different benefits that help them be better parents. We know it takes a village, and child care is a part of that village.
An investment in child care is not just an investment in child care. It’s actually an investment in child development and child health, and it sets the foundation for how successful a child will be over the course of their life. The foundation for who they will be; how they will parent the next generation; the kind of citizens they will be in this country. Child care, if it’s high-quality, well-supported, and safe, truly serves as a nurturing environment for children and supports their development, growth, and nutrition in an optimal way.
Renee Boynton-Jarrett, MD, ScD, works at Boston Medical CenterDr. Boynton-Jarrett is making a difference in the lives of families every day.
We need more qualified and caring individuals like Dr. Boynton-Jarrett to support working families. When you support Child Care Aware® of America, it’s an investment in America’s future. Your donation supports professional development opportunities for child care educators and providers and our public policy and advocacy efforts on behalf of quality and affordable child care.