Books from Our Faculty: Cradle to Kindergarten by Hirokazu Yoshikawa

The period between birth and kindergarten is a critical time for child development, and socioeconomic disparities that begin early in children’s lives contribute to starkly different long-term outcomes for adults. Yet, the U.S. government invests less in children under the age of five than do most other developed nations.

Cradle to Kindergarten: A New Plan to Combat Inequality (Russell Sage Foundation, 2017) offers a comprehensive, evidence-based strategy that diagnoses the obstacles to accessible early education and charts a path to opportunity for all children. The book is authored by Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Courtney Sale Ross Professor of Globalization and Education at NYU Steinhardt, Ajay Chaudry, senior fellow at NYU Wagner and former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Services Policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, American University’s Taryn Morrissey, and University of Michigan’s Christina Weiland.

The authors propose overhauling the current early care system, beginning with a federal paid parental leave policy that provides both mothers and fathers with time and financial support after the birth of a child. They also advocate increased public benefits, including an expansion of the child care tax credit, and a new child care assurance program that subsidizes the cost of early care. In addition, they propose that universal, high-quality early education in the states should start by age three, and a reform of the Head Start program that would include more intensive services for families living in areas of concentrated poverty. They contend that these reforms are attainable within a ten-year timeline.

Reducing educational and economic inequalities requires that all children have robust opportunities to learn, fully develop their capacities, and have a fair shot at success. Cradle to Kindergarten presents a blueprint for fulfilling this promise by expanding access to educational and financial resources at a critical stage of child development.