The first "Business Summit on Early Childhood Investment" brought business leaders from across the Wiregrass to Troy-Dothan Thursday.
"Out of 100 kids that enter the 9th grade [in Alabama], 62 graduate high school, 39 enter college, and only 14 graduate college," said Bob Powers, Eufaula Agency President.
The Dothan and Eufaula Chambers of Commerce believe this statistic can change, if communities invest in early childhood programs.
"What we want for young children is better outcomes which will never happen unless it's embedded in local communities such as this," said Gail Piggott, Alabama Partnership for Children, Executive Director.
Dothan Mayor Mike Schmitz adds, "If we don't help them then it's going to create more problems. It's important for them and important for our community."
Children 1 month through three years old, are often referred to as the "invisible group,” many lacking direction towards positive achievements
"We spend $1-Million in Houston County alone on detention and diversion centers," said Honorable Butch Bin ford, Circuit Judge 20th Judicial Circuit.
"A prison system is very costly, we'd like to put them all out of business," said Piggott.
She suggests creating ready families who are invested in their children and communities.
“A young child who has a toothache does not care about today's phonics lesson, so a child's health cannot be ignored it's also foundational."
“What takes place in a child's home before they're 4 years old has so much to do with their ability to learn and progress once they reach kindergarten," said Dr. Thomas Harrison, Wiregrass Foundation Education Program Director.
Participants agreed to make children the top economic priority in the Wiregrass by expanding children advocacy groups like, the Children's Policy Council.