This week, the First Five Years Fund, in cooperation with the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, convened a panel of experts to highlight the importance of high-quality early childhood education and development. Brain science confirms that the first five years of life play a critical role across all domains of learning and development. A number of federal programs, combined with efforts on the state and local levels, help children from low- and middle-income families gain access to opportunities that will put them on the path toward success.

Hill staffers from both sides of the aisle, federal program specialists, and early learning advocates came together on Capitol Hill to hear from those working in the field discuss their experiences around one of the best ways to invest in America’s future: quality early childhood education. We are extremely grateful for the leadership within the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, including co-chairs Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), as well as the overall bipartisan leadership on early childhood education across Capitol Hill, for the opportunity to host this convening.

Kris Perry, Executive Director of the First Five Years Fund, led a discussion, featuring experts whose work highlights the need to ensure more children have access to quality early care and learning.

Key points from the panel include:

Federal programs dedicated to early learning and care like the Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program, Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), Early Head Start/Head Start, and Preschool Development Grants provide critical resources and contribute vital funding. Child care, day care, preschool…whatever you want to call it, the benefits last a lifetime when our youngest learners receive high-quality early education and care.

  • Katie Hamm, Vice President of Early Childhood Policy at the Center for American Progress

High quality early childhood experiences have a lasting effect on healthy brain development. Conversely, chronic adversity early in life affects the plasticity of the growing brain, compromising the child’s ability to solve problems later in life.

  • Nathan Fox, the Child Development Lab Director and Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland

A mixed-delivery system for early learning support and leverage one another to reach more children with quality early learning. The Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership at the Ohio State University is a public-private partnership with strong outcomes for kids.

  • Eric Karolak, the CEO of Action for Children in Columbus, OH

Investing in early childhood education and care is an investment in our future as a nation. Today, an alarming number of young Americans would not qualify for military service due to issues related to health, education and crime, which bears implications on the American workforce in general. By investing early in the healthy development of young children, Americans will have the strong foundation they need to learn and develop throughout the rest of their lives.

  • Lieutenant General John D. Hopper, Jr, Retired, U.S. Air Force and member of Council for a Strong America – Mission: Readiness

To learn more about the programs that support America’s young children, visit:

Watch a video of the briefing here.