The First Five Years Fund couldn’t be more thrilled that the U.S. Senate has prioritized early childhood education and child care as the first piece of major education legislation in 2014. The bipartisan reauthorization of S. 1086 – the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2013 – is an important step for the early childhood community, and an indication that Congress is heeding the research and overwhelming support that voters across the country have for policies that benefit our nation’s youngest children.

Today, we especially thank Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) for championing today’s vote and creating bipartisan political will for action on early childhood education.

Reauthorization of CCDBG is long overdue – nearly 18 years, in fact. These grants provide early childhood education funding to states in the form of child care subsidies for families to use at necessary programs in communities across the country. CCDBG is a critical component of the federal-state early childhood puzzle to ensure children birth to age 5 are ready for school and success in college, career and life. This legislation intentionally and smartly builds on work being done by leading states from around the country, which prove each day that these critical investments are worth the time and effort.

It’s clear from President Obama’s initiative on early learning, the bipartisan Strong Start for America’s Children Act, the January federal appropriations deal (which provided a $1.4 billion investment to early childhood programs), and now the CCDBG vote – that increased federal investments in early childhood education are a political priority for Congress and the White House.

Despite today’s vote, CCDBG is just a step in a much larger process. FFYF and others will continue to identify opportunities to help states improve their locally grown early childhood efforts and support the current efforts being made at all levels of government, like the Strong Start for America’s Children Act, Preschool Development Grants and reauthorization of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV).