First Five Years Fund Executive Director Kris Perry issued the following statement on the end to the government shutdown:

FFYF is relieved that an agreement has been reached to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling. Today’s decisions will ensure that America does not default on its service to its people and its commitment to repay its debt. Now, it’s time to look ahead.

As we look ahead to budget negotiations that hopefully overcome the bitter division between the two parties, we urge policymakers to continue moving forward by meeting their responsibility to do better by America’s youngest children. The House and Senate are now directed to reach a long-term budget deal by Dec. 13. We believe that it’s time to focus on supporting long-term solutions that grow our economy, including a cost-effective, sustainable and commonsense solution for investing in early childhood education. We’re not the only ones who feel this way: 70 percent of American voters support an increased federal investment in early childhood education to make sure that children arrive at kindergarten with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.

The country may have found a way to meet its responsibilities today, however temporarily, but our sights must be set on the future and the future of America’s workforce and the economy. Throughout the long budget discussions and extensions, we have lost sight of the need to invest in the development of young children that will help us reduce spending, lower deficits and increase productivity. Future budget negotiations must place a priority on investing more in quality birth-to-five early childhood education programs for disadvantaged children. Policymakers will get America back on its feet when they make sure that each child starts life and school on the right foot with quality early childhood education.

We applaud Washington for finally coming to terms on an agreement, but we can’t stop here. This budget deal and the decisions policymakers make next are critical steps in making sure every child has the foundational skills for success in the 21st century. It’s irresponsible to waste another opportunity to do more for our youngest children when all the science and data show its overwhelming value to children, families, states and the country. Let’s do it right this time.