Making Early Childhood the Priority It Deserves to Be

President Obama’s FY14 budget calls for an unprecedented increase in federal funding for programs serving young children. If implemented, this bold initiative would mean investing in young children is finally the priority it deserves to be. 

It is not a partisan issue, but recognition of what scientists, economists, business leaders, and policymakers from state and local governments are supporting.  It is leadership from the highest elected office in the country, echoing a growing drumbeat coming from states, cities, and school districts.

For years we have known early childhood development is a good investment.

  • We have the science showing the first five years lay the foundation for later growth and development, including success in school and in life. 
  • We have the economic analyses showing public investments in early childhood development programs have the highest rate of return of any investments in human capital. 
  • We have state polls showing that the majority of citizens support public investments in early childhood programs.

What we lacked is the strength and scale of the federal government.  The Mayor of San Antonio, state legislators in Mississippi, and the Governor of Michigan all recently secured new funding for public pre-k.  We applaud these state leaders for their commitment, backed with real policy change and funding.  But collectively, these three investments are only a fraction, one-one hundredth, of the proposed federal investment.

We applaud the President for making young children a priority in his budget, and for proposing a significant federal investment in their future, and ours.  We stand with our state and national partners who are working to make this bold budget request a reality, and to ensure the federal plan benefits from the lessons learned in states.    

Helene Stebbins, Senior Policy Director, Alliance for Early Success (June 4, 2013)