WASHINGTON – A new national poll released today by the First Five Years Fund finds that 71 percent of voters – including 60 percent of Republicans – support greater federal investments in early childhood education. Importantly, these same voters are willing for Congress and President Obama to spend now in order to capitalize on the economic return on investment from early childhood education, as documented by Nobel Prize-winning economist Professor James Heckman.

“An overwhelming majority of Americans from diverse political and demographic backgrounds support federal action on early childhood education,” said First Five Years Fund Executive Director Kris Perry. “They understand its return on investment. They demand that Congress fund programs that meet high-quality standards. And, they want to invest now.”

FULL POLL RESULTS: www.GrowAmericaStronger.org/poll

Following a year of unprecedented state expansions of early childhood programs – in red and blue state alike – the national poll results reveal that 64 percent of voters say our political leaders should be doing more to ensure that children start kindergarten with the knowledge and skills to do their best. Seven in ten Americans also support a proposal that would increase federal investment to help states provide more access to high-quality early childhood programs for low- and moderate-income families.

The poll was commissioned by TheFirst Five Years Fund in conjunction with the bipartisan polling team of Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research Associates and will be released at an event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., featuring Jim Messina, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff and 2012 Obama presidential Campaign Manager, and Kevin Madden, Senior Advisor to Gov. Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign and Executive Vice President for Public Affairs at JDA Frontline.

For legislators on Capitol Hill, today’s poll unveils that over two-thirds of voters want Congress and the Obama Administration to make early childhood education a top legislative priority, with the issue ranking as the second highest priority of voters.

“Voters are willing to spend now in order to reap later economic benefits from early childhood education,” said Jim Messina. “It’s time for Congress to act now to ensure that early childhood education remains a legislative priority in the near term.”

Research from Prof. Heckman shows that investing in high-quality early childhood education for disadvantaged children from birth to five yields a 7-10 percent return—per child, per year—through improved education, health and societal outcomes and the reduced need for social spending. Federal investments would help states and local communities provide better quality programs to more parents and children from birth to five and expand access to high-quality preschool, child care, home visiting and parent education programs.

“Early childhood education is one of those rare issues that transcend partisanship,” said Kevin Madden. “There is a durable consensus of support for early learning, by governors and mayors, as well as law enforcement officials and business leaders, because it has an impact on the communities where these investments are made.”