Friday, May 29, 2015

Children the focus of Solano EDC breakfast

Children the focus of Solano EDC breakfast

By Melissa Murphy, The Reporter, Vacaville
  Successful children are at the heart of a successful economy.

That’s why the monthly breakfast of the Solano Economic Development Corporation focused on investing in younger generations.

Thursday’s Keynote Speaker, Professor Dowell Myers from the University of Southern California Sol Price School of Public Policy, explained that the importance of children today has doubled and that the old way of thinking when it comes to children has to change for California to be successful.

In the past when it came to children, he explained, people thought they were a burden on taxpayers, that children were too expensive and the adults shouldn’t be taking care of other people’s kids.

Dowell said evidence of the old way of thinking is evident in how much money is spent on children’s education K-12 compared to the average income in California. The spending compared to the income is “way below average” he said.

“We’re the outlier, dragging near the bottom,” Dowell said. “We’re working off of old habits.”

He noted that he considers the working age to be from 25 years old, after children are covered by parent’s health insurance, to 64 years old, when people will likely retire. Those that fall outside of this window, children and older adults, are benefiting from the taxes that those within the window are paying.

Another observation is that babies aren’t being born as often as before so the number of children living in California is dropping, migration to the state has dropped, too.

Previous predictions showed that California’s population would reach 50 million by 2032, but new information shows it’s likely to happen in 2051.

“There is a huge slow down in growth,” Dowell said. “California is now more dependent on the children we do have.”

He added that because the population is aging that means there is a “top heavy age structure.”

“Young adults are in supreme demand,” he said. “A kid born today is twice as important as a kid born in 1985.”

He explained that the “old folks need the young,” and it should be the responsibility of the adults to help get the youth up the ladder of success.

Dowell stressed again that the way of thinking needs to change and children are an important investment.

He added that babies aren’t going to appear all of a sudden and even if there was a big increase now, it would take 25 years for it to do any good to the economy.
“Our best chance is to invest in the ones in school today,” he said.

That’s one reason why First5 Solano is encouraging businesses to invest in is Pre-K Academies, a type of boot camp for children that are entering kindergarten without having attended preschool.

First 5 Commissioner and Solano Superintendent of Schools Jay Speck said that adults are now aware that 90 percent of the brain develops in the first five years of someone’s life. He shared a personal experience, that instead of investing right away in his grandchild’s college fund, he focused on paying for a high-quality preschool.

“The quality of the program matters,” he said and added that the Pre-K Academies make a difference.

“It’s not a substitution for preschool, but a better foundation otherwise.”

Preschool, according to First 5 Solano, helps children learn social skills critical to academic and career development, develop solid work ethic through task completion, creates lifelong learners and establishes fundamental math skills.

Speck said that for every $1 invested in children there is a $6-$8 return.

Several businesses were acknowledged Thursday for the investment they made to 2015 Pre-K Academies. First 5 Solano’s goal is to raise $20,000. So for, it’s raised $7,500 and it’s not too late to help. It costs $200 to send one child to the academy.

For additional information on First 5 Solano and how to donate, visit