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Early Childhood

Early Childhood Education

Positive, encouraging adult-child interactions are important to high-quality early learning, in both home and classroom environments. Children who receive high-quality early childhood education (ECE) are better prepared to succeed in K-12, are more likely to go on to college, and see improved outcomes as adults. But the ECE workforce is facing major challenges, including high turnover, food and economic insecurity, and high levels of depression. There is also a lack of financial incentives that promote professional development and a better-trained workforce. These challenges stem from underfunding of the ECE system and low wages paid to ECE staff. Support for the ECE workforce is necessary to build skills for children’s positive social and emotional development.

Health and Education Linked

Ensuring that children receive developmental screenings, referrals, and support services that lead to assessments and treatment improves outcomes for learning and healthy brain development. Infants and toddlers should have access to mental health screenings so that parents and caregivers can address issues early on by nurturing social-emotional learning. The Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) provides comprehensive and preventative health services for children under 21 enrolled in Medicaid. For ages birth to 9 months, Arkansas Medicaid requirements cover only five of seven EPSDT visits recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics Bright Futures program.