Investing today to create a more productive workforce tomorrow

baby in mortar boardIn 2012, I was introduced to the work of Children’s HealthWatch as part of a volunteer strategic consulting team. My fellow Yale MBA colleagues and I spent months reviewing their work by conducting interviews with policy makers and discussing ways in which the research of Children’s HealthWatch could make a bigger impact.

During these months of exploring Children’s HealthWatch’s work, I began to see how their mission of improving the health and future of children in families facing economic hardships intersects with integral components of building a stronger economy. As someone who works in finance at a healthcare company, I know that building a successful company begins with investing in a talented workforce. For-profit companies are constantly considering the ways in which they can make investments that guarantee better economic outcomes in the future.

Children’s HealthWatch identifies one critical way for this to happen: through smart government programs that boost child health. I believe the role of the government is to make smart, long-term investments in the infrastructure – both physical and knowledge-based – of our nation. To do this, policy makers and leaders should look to science and experts in the field to inform programs that support young children and their families.

Research shows that children need nutritious foods for brain development and that stress placed on young children from family hardships, like a lack of access to food, may alter the development of crucial brain structures controlling memory and psychosocial functioning. Investments in nutrition assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (CACFP) create the building blocks necessary for young children to grow, develop, and enter school primed for learning.

Business leaders like me rely on public investments made to create a smart, strong workforce well before the hiring process begins. We are constantly looking for talented professionals and realize that there are many building blocks throughout childhood that enhance learning, development, and growth so today’s children are ready to enter the workforce tomorrow. This means that investment begins in the womb and continues through early childhood, an essential time of rapid brain development. Making these critical investments means that children gain the right hardware to enter into the education system ready to learn and eventually enter into our rapidly changing economic system ready to work.

This year, Congress is considering potential changes to programs that provide food assistance for millions of children and their families. As a businessman interested in the future of our economy and the well-being of our nation, I hope that policy makers will consider the ways in which investing and expanding these programs is ultimately a way to improve human capital in the US. Building a smart, strong workforce begins today.