President Barack Obama wants to put real money behind his Plan for Early Education for All Americans. His proposed budget for federal fiscal year 2014 opts for smart new investments in a comprehensive birth-to-5 education plan.
His multi-pronged strategy will expand access to and improve the quality of early childhood education by:
- Helping states make high-quality prekindergarten available to all 4-year-olds, starting with children living in families with low or moderate incomes. Here in Washington, Obama’s strategy would help free up the long line of children waiting to enroll in the Early Childhood Education Assistance Program (ECEAP).
- Increasing access to evidence-based, voluntary home visiting programs. Home visitors help parents and parents-to-be learn to provide a stable, stimulating environment so they can be their child’s first teacher and best advocate.
- Targeting investments in high-quality early learning opportunities for infants and toddlers through a new Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership. Competitive funds would help provide new, full-day, comprehensive services that meet the needs of working families.
- Providing additional child care funding so more low-income families can access affordable child care. The President also proposes a new child care quality initiative.
Policymakers here in Washington should warmly welcome Obama’s intentional focus on child care quality. Both the state House and Senate have passed the Early Start bill, which would help align and strengthen Washington’s early learning system to better serve our youngest learners. And our state is in its second year of a four-year federal partnership to improve early learning. The White House’s plan complements state-level efforts like these.
High-quality early learning prevents crime, lowers K-12 costs, and reduces the need for public assistance. The more time babies, toddlers and young children spend in the kinds of enriching environments that help them build their mental framework, the more money we save down the road.
The President’s budget is only one of three federal proposals on the table. Both the House and Senate have passed their respective budget resolutions and negotiations for how to move forward are underway. It is no surprise that our own Senator Patty Murray – longtime champion for children and the current chair of the Senate Budget Committee – released a budget protecting kids and families. The Senate backs the President’s early learning initiative, recognizing that “high-quality investments in early childhood education programs result in better health, learning, and economic outcomes later in life.” We couldn’t agree more, so we call on the House to also back the President’s plan
For more information about the President’s early learning proposal, click here.