COLUMBIA — An early childhood education summit Friday at MU is intended to raise community awareness about the value of high-quality programs for preschoolers.
“Early childhood needs to get more publicity in the business community to show them that having an early start is beneficial to later education,” said Kathy Thornburg, a board member of the Missouri Coordinating Board for Early Childhood Education and director of the Center for Family Policy and Research at MU.
The event, billed as Columbia’s inaugural early childhood summit, is being hosted by the Boone County Coordinating Board for Early Childhood Education.
“High-quality early education can prevent problems later on,” said Philip Peters, executive director of First Chance for Children and a law professor at MU. He said a second goal of the summit is trying to convince the business community this is a positive way to use community resources.
“Research evidence shows the early years are far more important than we used to think,” Peters said. “It’s time to put this issue on the local agenda.”
Thornburg thinks communities such as Kansas City and Springfield have progressed with early childhood education, but Columbia is lagging.
Rob Grunewald of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis will deliver the keynote address on “The Business Case for Early Education.” His visit is being paid for by the City Council.