Kris Perry, executive director of the First Five Years Fund, issued the following statement:
Today, President Obama has fully embraced the importance of early childhood development, putting forward a plan that supports the effective development of disadvantaged children from birth to age five—and will move America forward for generations to come. Acknowledging the iron-clad links between early childhood development and economic development will go down in history as the turning point for building a stronger America through better education, health and economic outcomes that sustain generations to come.
President Obama’s plan wisely makes significant investments in early development through the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership and the expansion of evidence-based, voluntary home visiting. Providing quality care for disadvantaged children between birth and three, as well as helping to strengthen their family environments is the best way to build the foundational cognitive and character skills that are essential for success in pre-school, school, career and life. Combining birth to three developmental programs with expanded access to pre-K is exactly what has proven to work in early childhood programs.
Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman’s research that shows the greatest return on investment comes from investing in high quality early childhood programs for disadvantage children from birth to five.
The President’s proposal also supports early learning innovation in states such as Georgia, Oklahoma and North Carolina to name just a few. As such, the President’s plan is something on which Democrats and Republicans clearly agree and should have a broad and diverse coalition of support behind it. In the past month, a number of GOP governors have spoken favorably about the need for greater investments in early childhood education, including Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal.
The First Five Years Fund is pleased to work with the President, members of Congress and state leaders to make sure this vision of early development, progress and prosperity becomes a reality.