Nine months of life. That’s all it takes for a baby to fall behind on brain development and learning, initiating an education gap that could last a lifetime. This is especially true for kids from lower-income families, who often miss out on the crucial adult care that helps children form neural pathways. “By the time kids come to school, on average, they can be whole year behind their middle income peers,” said Shannon Rudisill, an early childhood specialist at the Department of Health and Human Services, in a panel discussion co-hosted by The Atlantic and National Journal on Friday.
But even preschoolers aren’t protected from Washington politics. Sequestration has devastated federally funded programs for babies and toddlers from low-income households. Head Start, the government’s program for funding nutrition education, social services, and cognitive development support for young kids, has been particularly crippled by the cuts. “Sequestration impacts on Head Start are huge,” Rudisill said. “We’ve lost 56,000 Head Start slots. We’ve lost 1.3 million service days. Attendance matters – if you’re not there, you can’t learn.”
Read more. [Image: Bazuki Muhammad/Reuters]