Kris Perry, executive director of the First Five Years Fund, issued the following statement:
“The First Five Years Fund applauds President Obama’s ‘Preschool for All’ initiative as outlined in his FY2014 budget. It sends a clear message: that preschool is early childhood development from birth to age five — and that it is critical to making sure every child has the foundational skills for success in the 21st century. The president has proposed a budget neutral investment in excess of $75 billion over the next 10 years to improve early childhood education from birth to five years old nationally.
“Preschool for All is a federal-state partnership that would fund evidence-based birth to five early childhood programs that will provide substantial returns via better education, health and economic outcomes. We are particularly excited about the federal government partnering with states to incentivize their innovation in developing and delivering proven early childhood programs for low- and moderate-income kids from ages zero to five. Republican and Democratic governors alike have been investing in early childhood; Preschool for All will help them meet the goals they have set for their states. This federal investment will help states provide greater quality and access to these critical local programs. The President’s proposed $15 billion investment over the next 10 years to extend and expand evidence-based, voluntary home visiting will enable parents to create stronger families at home. Meanwhile, $1.4 billion in new Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships will ensure that education and health care services are explicitly tied for children at the earliest stages.
“This solution comes at the right time. America needs cost-effective, common sense solutions to our nation’s biggest education, health and economic challenges. With research from the Alliance for Excellent Education showing that adults who attend early childhood programs earn $5,500 more per year than their peers who didn’t, business and education leaders, researchers, advocates and policymakers on both sides of the aisle are pointing to early childhood education as a bargain investment whose costs are easily offset by short- and long-term economic and societal benefits.
“Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman’s research shows investing in high-quality early learning experiences and enriched family environments 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.
“Early childhood education is an economic solution that the American public has firmly embraced. A March poll found that 67 percent of Americans favor public funding for early childhood education programs, similar to what the president proposed today. Preschool for All is funded by an offset that does not add to the federal debt. Finding the appropriate mix of reform and funding is critical and we look forward to working with all parties to find the appropriate path forward.
“We applaud the president for prioritizing cost-effective investments that put our nation’s youngest children first while strengthening our entire economy and our nation’s future. This is a critical step in making sure every child has the foundational skills for success in the 21st century. We look forward to working with him and members of both parties in Congress to make this plan a reality.”