“Last year, President Barack Obama made history by issuing a bold federal milestone – a $75 billion investment in early childhood education. Today, the First Five Years Fund applauds President Obama’s continued support for our nation’s young learners – and most important economic resource – in today’s FY 2015 budget. The president has, once again, provided a national platform for conversation on early childhood education, listing “enhancing early childhood education” as the first of six key areas of non-Defense spending part of the “Securing Our Nation’s Future” initiative.

The president’s support demonstrates that early childhood education is a cost-effective, common sense solution to many of our nation’s biggest challenges, including educational attainment, health and well-being, and economic productivity. Research from economist and Nobel laureate James Heckman shows that investing in high-quality programs for disadvantaged children from birth to age 5 can produce returns of 7-10 percent per year for every dollar invested.

The president’s budget would fund a transformational federal expansion of early childhood education, boosting access to high-quality programs aimed at serving low-income children. Through an increase of funding for Preschool Development Grants from $250 million to $750 million, aimed at reaching two-thirds of all states by 2015, President Obama proposes laying the groundwork for his signature Preschool for All initiative, a $75 billion federal investment in early childhood education housed at the Dept. of Education. The president’s budget would also make much needed investments in expanding access to voluntary home visiting and childcare programs through the Dept. of Health and Human Services, along with an expansion of Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships.

President Obama has made explicit in today’s budget that quality matters in early childhood education programs, and today’s announcement is a step toward ensuring that all children have access to the high-quality early childhood programs needed for success in career in life. The president, along with others, have recognized that early childhood education is one of the soundest investments we can make in our human capital – and we are so pleased to see the president prioritize early childhood as a pillar of his budget release today.

The announcement comes on the heels of the Senate’s decision to move forward with the reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), a bill supported by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, and the first education bill to be voted on the Senate floor this Congress. The continued bipartisan action by states and the federal government on early childhood education has been an encouraging and historic development in the last 12 months.

The sound research behind the positive long- and short-term benefits of early childhood education has been recognized by Democratic and Republican leaders across the country. They see for themselves that early learning programs in their communities more than pay for themselves. Business leaders, law enforcement officials, governors, members of the military and parents continue to stand behind early childhood education as a highly effective investment for country. Many Republican-led states, such as Michigan and Mississippi, have prioritized funding for early childhood education. And just a week ago, early childhood education was a key topic at the National Governors Association winter meeting.

We commend President Obama for wisely prioritizing early childhood education in his plans for our country’s future. The expansion of federal early childhood investments will help our economy prosper.

Congress has a chance to act by passing the bipartisan Strong Start for America’s Children Act, which helps states build and provide access to quality early childhood programs. The combination of federal, state and local efforts will ensure that our children get the strong start they need to be successful in school, career and life.”