Human Services

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  • Phone: 970-328-8840 

    551 Broadway
    P.O. Box 660
    Eagle, Colorado 81631
    Phone: 970-328-8840

    El Jebel
    0020 Eagle County Drive, Suite E
    El Jebel, Colorado 81623
    Phone: 970-328-9586 
    Office closed 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

    Fax: 970-328-8829
    (all locations)

Study shows correlation between high-quality early learning, future success

Contact: Maggie Swonger, BrightStart Coordinator, 970-328-2609,  

High-quality child care can have a lasting impact on a child’s development, behavior and cognitive abilities, according to a recently released report by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The report echoes the position long held by BrightStart for Eagle County Kids. The full report from NICHD can be found at

Based on the findings of the NICHD report, children who received high-quality care in the first few years of life (birth through 4 ½ years) scored higher on measures of academic and cognitive achievement when they were 15 years old than those children who received nonrelative, or low quality, care in their early years. They also were less likely to misbehave than those who were enrolled in lower-quality child care, according to the report.

“We are privileged to have BrightStart in Eagle County to help children receive quality early childhood education,” said Maggie Swonger, Coordinator for BrightStart. “But there needs to be a federal standard. Not only does high quality early learning care pay off in terms of academic success, the return on investment provided is 16 percent for every dollar spent.”

According to the study, Colorado currently ranks 41st in the nation for regulation and oversight of childcare centers, scoring 72 out of 150 points. Four recommendations were not met at all and five were partially met, out of 15 total recommendations. For licensed childcare homes, Colorado ranked ninth in the nation with 78 out of 140 points. No state scored higher than 110 points; nine states received zero points.

Linda K. Smith, executive director of the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies said this study is a first of its kind. “The NICHD study shows that even 10 years after children have left child care, quality child care is still related to higher academic achievement. But, the condition of child care throughout the country is poor. Standards are weak; oversight is weaker,” said Smith.

“What is important about this report is that it shows the quality of care can have a long-lasting impact on middle class and affluent children, not underprivileged children alone,” said Shirley Ritter, director of Kid’s First Child Care Resource and Referral for Eagle County. “I hope this report is a wake-up call to Congress. The primary reason that state child care policies are so weak is that the Child Care and Development Block Grant, the law that gives guidance to states in setting state child care policy, needs to be strengthened.”