BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Thursday, the importance of early childhood development was stressed to state leaders in a legislative luncheon held by the Gulf Coast Community Foundation and United Way.
Dr. Susan Buttross has been practicing medicine for 30 years. She was among the guest speakers who talked about making the most of the first three to five years of a child's life.
"This is so very important, vitally important, because we can change the face of Mississippi if we start working with our children very early on," Dr. Buttross said.
She said it's important to monitor children in their first years so anything unusual that could harm their development can be detected.
"Getting them healthy, ready to learn, making sure that if there's a developmental disability, it needs to be intervened upon early so that we don't lose any time," Dr. Buttross said.
The audience included people from all different occupations, from media relations to government officials. As the saying goes, "It takes a village to raise a child," to ensure the success of our children.
"The return on the investment early on is going to make a huge difference for children at the third grade level, high school graduation, and beyond," said Linda Southward, who serves as the Director of Mississippi Kids Count.
These early childhood professionals may practice in different fields, but they all agree that education is vital.
"We need the entire business community, we need everybody participating in this, and that's how we'll be able to make a big difference for our children and the future of Mississippi," Dr. Buttross said.
"If we're serious about moving Mississippi off the bottom, which I think most people are, it's just how we do it. We need to invest in early education," District 52 Senator Brice Wiggins said.
Senator Wiggins said the Mississippi Board of Education has awarded competitive Early Learning Collaborative funding to 11 collaboratives for the next three years.