It’s still sending shock waves through Washington: two weeks ago, Virginia Representative Eric Cantor became the first House Majority Leader in more than a century to lose a primary election. While several factors contributed to his loss, the takeaway by Republicans and Democrats alike is this: Members of Congress had better spend a lot more time listening to constituents and being seen in their districts between now and the November elections.

If there were ever a time for at-home advocacy to support expanded resources for early childhood education, it’s now! Members of Congress are looking for meet-and-greets, grip-and-grins, policy roundtables and photo shoots to show they are out and about, responding to voter concerns. And, as I shared last week, the schedule for the rest of the summer and fall gives you plenty of opportunities to make your ask. [As a reminder, the House schedule is here; Senate is here.] We strongly encourage you to take full advantage of this Congressional urgency to be more in touch with folks at home.

We know that at home, in districts across the country, voters want more high quality early childhood education opportunities to give children a strong start and strengthen families and our economy.

Momentum for early education continues to build across the country. Within the last week:

  • The White House hosted its Summit on Working Families on Monday that highlight the importance of quality childcare and early learning.
  • California Gov. Jerry Brown just signed a state budget that provides $264 million for quality child care and preschool programs, a huge win for early learning advocates.
  • In Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a $15.8 billion education budget that includes $65 million to alleviate waiting lists for low-income children eligible for preschool.

The momentum will continue on July 17 when FFYF rolls out a new national poll that shows strong, bipartisan demand for early education by voters. Our event will include a Republican and Democratic strategist to help explain what those numbers mean for elected officials from both parties.  I hope you can join a webinar for advocates on Tuesday, July 22 to learn more about the details of the poll and how you can use it in your community.  Keep an eye out for more details, coming soon.

In the meantime, there may be no better time to schedule a meeting and get face-to-face time with your elected leaders than this summer. Take advantage of the opportunity to educate them about the value of early childhood education and the economic benefits that result from quality early learning programs. Work with a local early learning program to invite members to visit and observe what quality learning programs look like. Use local parades and other events to spotlight quality childcare and early learning.

As always, a host of resources are available on the FFYF Website, including infographics that can be used on flyers or signs, backgrounders on early learning topics such as economic benefits, presentations and talking points. Feel free to download them and brand them with your organization’s logo. Let us know about events you are planning, so we can let our champions in Washington know you are helping to build the momentum and make some noise!