Why Early Childhood Matters

Brains are built not born. The brain is one of the only organs that isn’t fully developed at birth. In fact, 700 new neural connections are formed every second during the first few years of a child’s life. The experiences a child has during the first 2,000 days—from birth to kindergarten—will determine how his or her brain is wired for life.

More than 14,453 young children (birth to age five) live in Pitt and Martin Counties. Here is how they spend their first 2,000 days:

  • 1/3 are enrolled in high-quality licensed childcare centers
  • 1/3 get good care at home with parents, relatives or friends
  • 1/3 aren’t getting the care they need to build healthy brains

While their parents work, children who receive inferior care get further behind every day. Research shows once a child falls behind it is difficult for them to catch up.

Children who participate in high-quality early childhood programs have a greater chance of succeeding later in life.

  • They score higher on standardized language and math tests (1);
  • They have higher earning potential, pay more taxes, and are less likely to rely on government assistance (2);
  • They’re five times less likely than their counterparts to become chronic criminal offenders as adults (3);

Every part of our communities wins when young children get what they need at an early age; and everyone can get involved.

  • Police officers across the United State advocate for high-quality early childhood programs as a key component of crime prevention.
  • Key military leaders link first-rate early childhood to military readiness, and are calling for smart investments in children.
  • Business leaders recognize investing in early education is crucial to building a well-educated, competitive workforce.


1. The First 2000 Days
2. Brant, D., Maxwell, K., Taylor, K., Poe, M., Peisner-Feinberg, E., and Bernier, K. (2003). Smart Start and Preschool Child Care Quality in NC: Change over Time and Relation to Children’s Readiness. Chapel Hill, NC. FPG Child Development Institute
3. Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. (2012). High-Quality Early Care and Education: A Key to Reducing Future Crime in North Carolina. Washington, DC: Stephanie Schaeffer