Support for the increased investment in the education of our earliest learners is at historic levels among our nation’s leaders. The research is clear: high-quality early education places our children on a path to academic and career success. This week in his annual State of the Union address, President Obama recognized this fact by expressing a renewed commitment to ensuring that every child has access to high-quality education, saying:
“One of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education. Last year, I asked this Congress to help states make high-quality pre-K available to every four year-old. As a parent as well as a President, I repeat that request tonight.”
This legislative session, members of Congress also expressed this commitment by introducing the Strong Start for America’s Children Act in November. Sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Representatives George Miller (D-Calif.) and Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), the legislation would increase access to and quality of programs for children from birth to kindergarten. In just two short months, over 100 members of Congress from over 30 states and the District of Columbia have signed on as cosponsors and support continues to grow.
The Strong Start for America’s Children Act consists of four key measures:
- Preschool for All: Establishes a federal-state partnership to provide access to high-quality prekindergarten programs for all low-income and moderate-income children.
- Early Learning Quality Partnerships: Creates partnerships between Early Head Start providers and local center-based and family child care to improve the quality of their infant and toddler care.
- Child Care Improvement: Provides support for training, licensure, and compensation of child care providers and for the development of improved health and safety standards of federally-subsidized child care.
- Maternal, Infant, and early Childhood Home Visiting Programs: Encourages increased funding for evidence-based, voluntary home visitation programs to promote maternal and child health.
National PTA has supported early childhood education since its inception. We advocate for federal and state incentives for high-quality child care and preschool programs from birth to age five. These programs should be affordable and accessible; developmentally appropriate; coordinated at all levels (federal, state and local); and characterized by high standards for teaching, training, health and safety. National PTA also strongly encourages the inclusion of a family engagement component in all early childhood programs.
In 2014, National PTA is making the Strong Start for America’s Children Act one of our top legislative priorities. We are excited by the recent energy and dedication demonstrated by the President and members of Congress to increasing early learning opportunities. Now, we must leverage this historic support. Here’s how you can join National PTA’s efforts to strengthen early childhood education programs for every child:
- Contact your Members of Congress: Reach out to your representatives and senators and urge them to show their support for early childhood education by cosponsoring the Strong Start for America’s Children Act (H.R. 3461/S.1697).
- Join our PTA Take Action Network: Stay informed of National PTA’s advocacy efforts by signing up to receive our action alerts. These alerts will notify you when Congress is acting on issues important to children and families and will give you the opportunity to contact your leaders to make your voice heard.
It is important that Congress hear from parents on this issue! Please take action and let your member of Congress know why you think that investing in the education of our earliest learners is critical to our future.