Across the political spectrum, policymakers acknowledge the importance of investing in our children’s earliest years – and looking beyond the election, this bipartisan support provides a significant opportunity to enact early childhood solutions that benefit children in the most need. We must work with lawmakers of both parties and the Trump Administration, building upon progress made over the last several years to increase access to high-quality early learning and care.
To help kick-start a solution-driven conversation on early childhood education, the First Five Years Fund is releasing our “Early Childhood Education Policy Framework.” This framework provides ideas for how the Trump Administration and incoming Congress could create a well-financed continuum of high-quality early learning and care for children from birth through age five by improving existing programs, addressing concerns of quality and cost, and building better partnerships between the federal government, states, and local communities.
Recently, we commissioned a bipartisan national poll that found 90 percent of voters agree Congress and the next president should work together to make high-quality early childhood education more accessible and affordable to low- and middle-income families. Unfortunately, we also found that access to care is significantly lacking – only 24 percent of voters from the same poll said programs available to low- and middle-income families are high-quality and affordable.
To address voters’ concerns of quality and access, our policy framework recommends:
- Extending and expanding the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program to support parents as a child’s first and best teacher.
- Growing the Early Head Start – Child Care Partnerships Initiative, as state and local partnerships are one of the most promising practices emerging as a driver of quality.
- Leveraging the Preschool Development Grant program to strengthen state leadership efforts toward building strong early learning systems.
- Reaching a bipartisan, long-term solution to budget constraints to ensure Child Care, Head Start, and other critical programs have sustained funding to support both access and quality.
- Addressing the high cost of quality early learning with reforms to the tax code.
- Supporting innovation and new ideas such as strengthening the structure of federal early childhood programs to improve service delivery.
- Working with all partners to execute comprehensive approaches to better implement, coordinate, and evaluate early learning services and their impacts.
We hope the Trump Administration and Congress can come together on this issue and support the broader, bipartisan commitment to increasing access to high-quality early learning and care programs that enable our children – and our country – to succeed.