Commentary: Early Childhood education is critical to the education pathway

Commentary: Early Childhood education is critical to the education pathway
September 21
10:35 2017

By Algernon Cash

Downtown Winston-Salem is experiencing unprecedented expansion as the local economy attracts new restaurants, shopping areas, housing and entertainment.  The growth draws in a young, talented and vibrant workforce into downtown Winston-Salem.

Many of these young adults are working parents with small children and budding families, so often they strongly consider the best options to care for their young ones as they pursue varied professional interests – health care, technology and entrepreneurship.

Nurture. Enrich. Grow. These values are the cornerstone for the youngest members of the thriving downtown Winston-Salem community, the children of MudPies Downtown East.  Working parents can be assured that their children are thriving at MudPies Downtown East, at the corner of Seventh and Patterson streets since 2014.

MudPies’ nationally recognized Creative Curriculum® promotes social, physical, cognitive and language development. This coupled with a low teacher/student ratio and a custom-designed downtown facility ensures unparalleled service for the children and their parents.

The staff at MudPies Downtown East delivers cutting-edge child development for children age 6 weeks to 5 years, and provides before/after school care through age 12. The 5-star program offers a safe and supportive environment that promotes early childhood development at every stage.

MudPies Downtown East is one of three MudPies child development centers under the leadership of President and CEO Tony Lewis L. Burton III, PhD, and supported by a governing Board of Directors and business partnerships. Hatch Early Learning Co. equips MudPies children with innovative learning technology. Forsyth Tech has partnered with MudPies to provide accredited classes in early childhood education. Countless local corporate and civic organization partnerships support MudPies and their mission to provide affordable and high-quality child development services.

Working mother Cates Allen describes her daughter’s positive experience as she works in downtown Winston- Salem: “The classrooms are full of life and love and the teachers are the key to that. They take excellent care of the kids, and my daughter has not only learned so much through all the artwork, singing, playing and going outside but she has thrived. She is a happy, healthy toddler and so much of that is due to MudPies and her wonderful teachers.”

In recent decades, studies have shown that early childhood education is critical in preparing children to enter and succeed in the elementary classroom, diminishing their risk of social-emotional mental health problems and increasing their self-sufficiency as adults.

Decades of research provide unequivocal evidence that public investment in early childhood care and education can produce economic returns equal to roughly 10 times its costs.  The sources of these gains are (1) child care that enables mothers to work and (2) education and other supports for child development that increase subsequent school success, labor force productivity, social behavior and health. The benefits from enhanced child development are the largest part of the economic return.

Elected officials, business leaders and community activists must be proactive in encouraging sound governmental policy that promotes early childhood education.  Funding provided through programs such as Smart Start and other community-based initiatives not only should be maintained, but increased.  The corporate community also has a responsibility to get more involved through innovative sponsorship programs that enable low-income workers to gain access to early childhood care.

Algenon Cash is the managing director of Wharton Gladden & Company, an investment banking firm.  Reach him at

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