As a pediatrician in private practice and chairman of the Children’s Mental Health Task Force of the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, I know that the care my colleagues and I provide is only part of what our young patients need to ensure their healthy development. They need supportive families and communities. They also need access to high-quality early education and care, which, as reporter Akilah Johnson points out, prepares young children to enter kindergarten ready to succeed (“Freeze on state aid leaves parents longing, preschool seats empty,” Page A1, March 4.)
Children, particularly children from low-income families, whose high-quality preschool programs buffer them from the toxic stress of their environment develop positive attitudes toward their own health that serve them and their communities well for years to come. They enjoy better health as adults. They are less likely to smoke, use drugs, or abuse alcohol, and more likely to use seat belts.
Laying the foundation for children's good health takes the entire village, and that includes high-quality child care.