Today I’m at the Collaborative for Children lunch. They are honoring Rice University’s Stephen Klineberg for his exhaustive, groundbreaking Houston Area Research:

In Houston nearly 75% of people under age 25 are non-Anglo. In the last 20 years Houston’s explosive growth have been completely non-Anglo. As factory jobs have moved overseas in this global economy, blue collar jobs have steeply declined. In the future, much will depend on education in our information-based economy.

85% of a person’s brain development happens between birth and age 6. 700 new neural connections are made per second in early childhood. Vocabulary disparities begin as early as 18 months. Studies show investing in children and education saves a fortune in crime costs later in life. Investing in children is investing in our future.

Good news: Yesterday the Senate Appropriations Committee passed legislation increasing the Child Care and Development Block grant by $1B an Head Start by $1B.

C4C helps get books for children in the less affluent areas. Many child care centers lack adequate facilities and resources. C4C’s mission is to build a strong foundation for young children to succeed in school and life. They assess learning environments on a seven-point scale. Some centers have very few toys and books (let alone computers). Last year C4C pumped $6.4M into the community, impacting 23,000 children. They chose the mayor’s Hope Neighborhoods. They help get curriculum, toys, play equipment and so on. They work to strengthen early childhood programs.

Many of our congregations have early childhood programs. Many don’t realize they are saving lives. Don’t evaluate your preschool on how many members you garner from the program. Evaluate it on lives changed. Evaluate it on how many Bible stories and songs they learn, how much love they receive.