The Center for American Progress’ early childhood education proposal today represents a step in the right direction for America’s economic future. Investments made in early childhood education are proven means to reducing economic inequality and increasing productivity through effective skills development. Research by Nobel Prize winning economist James Heckman shows that investing in early childhood development from birth through age five for disadvantaged children delivers a 7-10 percent return on investment – per child, per year – through better education, health and social outcomes, as well as reduced needs for social spending.

However, skills development starts at birth, with skill begetting skill. This means that high quality 0-3 early learning is as important as pre-k in elevating individuals, maximizing public investment and producing greater economic and social returns. We look forward to working with President Obama and policy leaders to ensure that children, particularly those most disadvantaged, have access to high quality early childhood education programs throughout the critical developmental years from birth through age five.