06/21/2010 USVI Gov. de Jongh Commends Business Leaders on Commitment to Investment in Early Education
June 18, 2010
With the wrap-up of the Virgin Islands Business Leaders Summits on Early Childhood Investment this week, Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. was pleased at the unity of purpose expressed by the Territory’s business leaders to invest in early education initiatives to improve the Territory's early childhood welfare programs, adding to the efforts already underway for Virgin Islands children and families. With approximately 150 childcare centers in the Territory, and 49 Head Start classrooms, improving and expanding the child welfare system has been a continual focus of the de Jongh/Francis Administration.
Throughout the conference held earlier this week, speakers from the public, private, and non-profit sectors presented information about the links between the welfare of young children and the health of the private sector, explaining these deep linkages as being vital areas for investment and focus. Conference presenters pointed to overwhelming evidence that clearly delineates the critical importance of funding childhood education initiatives in a broad-based, community-wide approach, enabling a substantial return on investment, benefitting the greater community. Business leaders resoundingly agreed with the prevailing research, favoring the return on investment concept as an important policy shaper and motivator.
“These summits have brought about significant new dialogue and interest in the area of private sector support of early education initiatives. The key investments of the public sector in our schools are already underway, and the partnership with businesses throughout the Territory solidifies an important social and economic compact that looks at the long term return on investment for the greater community. Our efforts continue to focus on the holistic care of all children in the Virgin Islands, with a tremendous focus on creating foundations of success and achievement for each child in his or her own unique way.”
The Governor continued, “We are aware of the challenges before us and are taking the necessary steps to create the networks of support so vital to a child’s empowerment and happiness. This bodes well for the community and levels the playing field for so many children and families Territory-wide. I am proud of the implications of this new compact with the business community towards creating additional opportunities for children and families Territory-wide.”
In referencing the various programs of the Administration to address children’s unique needs, the Governor also noted, “We are targeting preschool and early childhood programs as integral components of each child’s schooling process. If we begin to capture our youth in these early learning programs, starting from birth, and we make the investments, we can hold to the goal of making sure that every family in the Virgin Islands has the opportunity to send their child to preschool and secure a better Virgin Islands future for us all.”
Recalling the high cost to house inmates in comparison to being able to allocate those monies for children’s educational development, the Governor also noted, “It costs the Government $45,000 per year to incarcerate someone at the Bureau of Corrections. If we re-shift these dollars to early education programs and capture these individuals before they enter a life of crime and delinquency, we can continue to make advances in building our workforce and assisting individuals and families with leading more fulfilling and rewarding lives,” Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. said.
With American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grants, the Virgi