“Today, through the bipartisan leadership of Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Reps. George Miller, D-Calif., and Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., Congress is taking a vital step in boosting our economy and supporting our nation’s youngest learners by helping states and local communities expand high quality early childhood education.

The “Strong Start for America’s Children Act,” being introduced today in both the Senate and the House, would establish a new federal partnership to help states and communities improve and expand high quality, full-day preschool programs for 4-year-olds, with the goal of increasing school readiness. Under the proposed legislation, schools, Head Start programs, and community-based child care can compete for resources to provide quality care in communities that need varying options to meet different families’ needs.

In “red” and “blue” states across the country, from Alabama to Washington, state legislatures have been making difficult decisions in times of reduced revenue to prioritize early learning. Our state leaders have done a lot, but they cannot do it alone. Today’s bill would provide critical resources to help states and communities provide evidence-based early education to low- and moderate-income children age birth to five.

Investing in high quality early childhood education is what our country needs to do to help more children start school on the right foot and with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century. The facts are clear. Every dollar invested in quality early childhood education pays dividends to children, families and taxpayers for the life of the child through better education, health and social outcomes, as well as reduced needs for social spending. Law enforcement officials, business leaders, members of the military, parents and families agree with the nearly 70 percent of Americans that support a plan like the one introduced today.

We applaud the leadership of Sen. Harkin and Reps. Miller and Hanna, and encourage the budget conference committee to join them in prioritizing this critical investment in our nation’s economic future.”