Decades of research have demonstrated that children’s earliest experiences play a critical role in brain development and long term outcomes related to learning, behavior and health. Key research in this area has noted the following:
• Neural circuits, which create the foundation for learning, behavior and health, are most flexible or “plastic” during the first three years of life. Over time, they become increasingly difficult to change (Centre for the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2010 & 2008).
• The brain is strengthened by positive early experiences, especially stable relationships with caring and responsive adults, safe and supportive environments, and appropriate nutrition (Centre for the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2010 & 2008).
• High quality early intervention services can change a child’s developmental trajectory and improve outcomes for children, families and communities (Centre for the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2010 & 2008).
• Intervention is likely to be more effective and less costly when it is provided earlier in life rather than later (Centre for the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2010 & 2008).
• Early Intervention services to young children who have, or are at risk for developmental delays have been shown to positively impact outcomes across developmental domains , including health, language and communication, cognitive development and social emotional development (ASLHA, 2008; Hebbeler, 2009; Hebbeler et al, 2007).
• Families benefit from early intervention by being able to effectively meet their child’s special needs at an early age and by acquiring skills to support their child across the lifespan (Bailey et al., 2005).
• Benefits to society include reducing economic burden through a reduced need for long-term services. Three of the most rigorous longterm studies found a range of returns between $4 - $9 for every dollar invested in early learning programs (Masse & Barnett, 2002; Karoly et al, 2005; Heckman et al, 2009).