October 20, 2014

Dean Carson

DENVER – A new poll conducted by the bipartisan team of Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research for the First Five Years Fund finds that Colorado voters view early childhood education as an essential priority for the state and nation. Majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents support greater investments in early childhood programs in the state – including teacher training, voluntary parent coaching, and expanding access to early learning or child care.

More than three in four (77 percent) of Colorado voters believe that investments in early childhood programs will help strengthen the economy in the short and long term. Voters also rank ensuring children get a strong start in life as a top priority for policymakers, second only to jobs and the economy and well ahead of reducing the tax burden on families.

“Coloradans believe our communities and state need the talents of all our children,” said Chris Watney, president and CEO of the Colorado Children’s Campaign. “Stimulating early childhood experiences help us maximize this potential in our children as they enter school ready to learn and begin a path toward life success. We’re excited to see this poll reflect the great wave of support for expanding access to quality early learning for all Colorado families who want it.”

Only about 21 percent of 4-year-olds and 7 percent of 3-year-olds currently have access to state-funded pre-K. Voters want more: nearly three-quarters said they support expanding voluntary early learning classes throughout the state, with majority support across the political spectrum.

Voters favor deep, wide and varied investments in Colorado’s early childhood programs from birth to age 5 and believe that such programs are the key to helping children get a strong start in school and life. Eighty-one percent want Colorado to invest in training preschool and early elementary school teachers to better meet individual children’s needs and 79 percent favor investments in voluntary coaching and education programs for new parents. Colorado voters are also more likely to vote for candidates who support early childhood education, with 47 percent saying they’d be more likely to vote for such a candidate.

Nationally, three in five Colorado voters (62 percent) support a proposal that would increase federal investment to help states provide more access to high-quality early childhood programs for low- and moderate-income families. Support for such a proposal rises in Denver (82 percent), and among swing voters, including women ages 18-44 (78 percent), Independents ages 18-44 (76 percent) and moms (76 percent).

Research from Nobel Prize-winning economist Professor James Heckman documents the outstanding economic return on investment from early childhood education. Investing in high-quality early childhood education 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.

“Voters across the country time and time again are expressing their support for helping children get a strong start in life and see the connection between early education and economic growth,” said FFYF Executive Director Kris Perry. “Congress needs to listen to voters in Colorado and other states to make early childhood education a priority investment. Our kids cannot wait.”

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About the First Five Years Fund

The First Five Years Fund helps America achieve better results in education, health and economic productivity through investments in quality early childhood education programs for disadvantaged children. FFYF provides knowledge, data, and advocacy – persuading federal policymakers to make investments in the first five years of a child’s life that create greater returns for all.