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

Today, across the country, organizations are rallying to “Grow America Stronger” and show their support for expanded federal investments in early learning. This “Day of Action” aims to persuade political leaders from both parties that the time is right for federal implementation of expanded access to high-quality early childhood education.

Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan released important data detailing how President Obama’s proposal to expand high-quality early education opportunities for children birth to age 5 would directly benefit our nation’s children.

This new data shows how funding would be allocated across the country to strengthen and enhance the early childhood innovations that are already taking place in states led by Republicans and Democrats alike.

Most importantly, the data reveals that in the first year of participation by all 50 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico:

  • 338,323 more children nationwide would be served by high-quality preschool programs.
  • Some of the over 700,000 children currently served by birth to three federal programs would gain greater access to high-quality early childhood programs through Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships. Many children enrolled in these federal programs are not currently served by high-quality programs – those shown to create the greatest social and economic returns.
  • $440 million would help expand state-based Home Visiting programs that are proven to help parents build stronger families and better early learning environments at home that prepare their children for school. Demand for home visitation programs grows each year; this funding is critical to strengthening more families and helps prevent the achievement gap.

Despite the innovation by states and their commitment to prioritize funding for early childhood education – even during tough economic times – states need federal help to continue their groundbreaking work and provide access to more families. This state-by-state data follows the release of the National Institute for Early Education Research’s (NIEER) The State of Preschool 2012: State Preschool Yearbook, which revealed unprecedented drops in state funding per child and marked decreases in the number of children and families served by public pre-K programs.

The data illustrates how smart federal investments in high-quality birth to five programs can increase critical support for young children and their families and Grow America Stronger by laying the essential foundation for later success in school, career and life.

Economic research by Nobel Prize winning economist James Heckman clearly shows that investing in high-quality early learning experiences and enriched family environments for disadvantaged children from birth to age 5 yields a 7-10 percent return – per child, per year – through improved education, health, social and economic outcomes as well as the reduced need for social spending.

This funding comes at a critical time for our nation’s youngest learners and future workforce. Appropriate federal support will help state and local leaders continue their early learning efforts to ensure that every child has the foundational skills for success in the 21st century—and that America grows stronger through their success.