In 2013-2014, the latest figures for the state, Missouri ranked toward the bottom of states for financial commitment and access for early childhood education, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.

Research continues to show that there are substantial benefits to quality early childhood education, including improving a child’s language, literacy and mathematic skills, positive effects of socio-emotional development and a greater return of investment in workforce readiness.

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However, access to quality early education continues to be a barrier for low-income families in our region. Helping to knock down those barriers has been cited as a way to decrease the achievement gap between low-income students and more affluent peers, according to Building a GradNation’s latest report.



Furthermore, research has shown that 95 percent of the brain develops by the age of 5, so it is essential that all children have access to quality early learning opportunities.

LUME Institute CEO Steve Zwolak, who is also executive director of University City Children’s Center, has more than 40 years of experience in early childhood education.

“Mr. Z,” as he is often called, gives some insight into why early childhood education can make the difference in lifetime educational success.


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