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Paying later: The high costs of failing to invest in young children

Weiss, E. – 2011

This policy brief examines the economic and social costs of failing to support healthy early childhood development. Notes that the costs of early intervention programs, such as nurse home visiting, are much less than the later costs associated with child maltreatment, including criminal activity, substance abuse, and health problems. Lists average lifetime per-person costs of the following bad outcomes: child abuse, teen pregnancy, high school drop out, illegal drug abuse, alcohol abuse. Notes that total costs could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in one person’s lifetime. Describes the importance of preventive care, such as the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. Discusses how the implementation of alternative sentencing programs, such as residential treatment programs, can reduce corrections costs. Lists effective early childhood investments, including evidence-based home visiting programs, nutrition support for pregnant women and young children, early diagnosis of childhood illnesses such as asthma, and quality pre-kindergarten programs.