With a divided Congress, voters see early childhood education as a rare, unifying policy issue– and they’re paying close attention to their lawmakers’ actions.
According to a new bipartisan poll commissioned by First Five Years Fund (FFYF), voters say a divided Congress should have no bearing on lawmakers’ ability to pass meaningful legislation supporting high-quality early childhood education. In fact, Democrats and Republicans alike expect members of Congress from across the aisle to work together to get things done—and investing in early childhood education opportunities remains a rare issue that has strong support across parties. Voters are less interested in seeing partisans stand their ground than they are seeing them stand up for young children and their families.
- Regardless of party, voters say they will be watching to see if members are working together to break partisan gridlock and get things done in the new Congress.
- Democrats and independents overwhelmingly want to see increased funding for early childhood education, even if it means the Trump administration can take credit for helping children and families.
Voters see a critical lack of quality, affordable early childhood education, regardless of their income level.
Only 15% say that most or all local programs available to lower- and middle-income families are high-quality and affordable. Respondents making over $100,000 per year are virtually just as likely (43%) as those who earn less than $40,000 per year (51%) to say that only some or few programs near them are affordable and high-quality.
Two-thirds of American voters say we need to do more to ensure children start kindergarten with the knowledge and skills they need to do their best in school.
Parents and those without children at home share virtually the same view that more should be done to ensure children start school with the skills they need. 68% of parents and 64% of non-parents agree that more needs to be done.
Republicans, independents and Democrats all support proposals that will help more families access high-quality early learning and care opportunities:
Provide tax incentives to businesses which provide or help their employees afford quality early childhood education programs: 52% strongly support; 84% support
Increase federal funding to states to create or build on their own programs that directly help low-income children: 54% strongly support; 81% support
Increase the child care tax credit to help parents better afford quality child care and early education programs: 50% strongly support; 81% support
Provide greater funding to Head Start and Early Head Start: 58% strongly support; 80% support
For members of Congress, there is no risk to supporting early childhood education – there’s only great reward.
Voters are 8 times more likely to have a more favorable opinion of their member of Congress for supporting policies and funding for quality early learning. In fact, more than one-in-four voters say that early childhood education is a primary factor in deciding whether to support an elected official.
Methodology: Public Opinion Strategies (R) and Hart Research (D) conducted a telephone survey of N=1,000 voters throughout the country on both landline and cell phones. The survey was conducted November 10-15, 2018 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 3.10%. The sample was distributed proportionally throughout the nation and is demographically representative of the electorate.