State of the Union Highlights Importance of Early Childhood Education
President’s recipe for a smarter, healthier, more prosperous nation:
Invest in children, start at birth

Kris Perry, executive director of the First Five Years Fund, issued the following statement:

“We are thrilled that the President highlighted early childhood education and drew the connection between early investments in children and better education, health and economic outcomes that will increase productivity and reduce the need for social spending.”

‘Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than seven dollars later on – by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime,’ said the president, pointing out that that the earlier we begin, the greater the impact: ‘Study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road.’

Early childhood programs are proven to work when we start at birth; invest in comprehensive, high-quality programs through age five; align instruction in early school grades with early childhood education; and consciously sustain the development of cognitive and social-emotional skills throughout schooling and early adulthood. President Obama’s comments demonstrate that he understands this, and we look forward to helping the president actualize his vision.

The President is absolutely right that the foundational skills learned between birth and five greatly shape the ability to thrive in school, career and life. In fact, research from University of Chicago Nobel Prize winning economist James Heckman shows that investing in early childhood development from birth to age five for disadvantaged children is the best way to prevent the achievement gap and maximize later investments in formal schooling, college and job training.

Not only are there many two-parent working families that would benefit immensely from having support for their young children, but this support pays off for our economy as well. As the President referenced, studies show that investing in early childhood development has been shown to produce a 7 to 10 percent return on investment per child per year. Starting at birth, especially for disadvantaged children, is the most efficient and effective investment.

The President has been a strong advocate for birth-to-five education since his time in the Illinois state Senate, promoting high-quality early education that supports families and helps children arrive at kindergarten ready to learn and succeed. As President Obama enters his second term, we are hopeful that part of his legacy will encompass investments in our nation’s youngest citizens.

Additional Statements of Support:

J.B. Pritzker: “I applaud President Obama’s call for greater action on early childhood education. An investment in early childhood education is an investment in our nation’s economic future. Quality birth to five early childhood education will assure that our country leaves no talent on the table, and that every child will be prepared to lead an engaged and productive life. Today the President has made a huge step forward for those who have yet to crawl and for a nation that depends on their success.”