“Today’s move to reauthorize the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program represents a critical step toward ensuring children birthto age 5 are ready for school and success in college, career and life. I especially applaud the Committee’s efforts to place a renewed emphasis on thequalityand safetyof early childhood programs.

Research conducted by University of Chicago Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman shows that investing in quality early childhood development from birth to age 5 for disadvantaged children can prevent the achievement gap and maximize taxpayer investments in education and job training. Investing in quality programs is the only way to achieve the 7-10 percent return on investment that early childhood development delivers through better outcomes in education, health, personal productivity and economic vitality.

CCDBG reauthorization is long overdue and I am pleased to see a piece of early childhood legislation that builds on work being done by leading states from around the country to elevate quality and offer more effective child care programs, with support from both sides of the political aisle. We’re already seeing this in places like Pennsylvania and North Carolina where leaders use CCDBG to build on state and local innovations that improve quality, health and safety standards.

While revamping CCDBG represents a critical opportunity for lawmakers to improve the quality of early childhood programs nationwide, the nation agrees thata far greater increase in smart, targeted investments is needed to meet the public’s demand for affordable high-quality preschool options. According to a recent national survey, ensuring children get a strong start in life is seen as an important national priority by 86 percent of Republican and Democratic voters.

As lawmakers continue budget negotiations in the coming months, they too have the chance to prioritize early learning. The early childhood proposal currently under consideration by Congress represents a great opportunity to help states improve upon locally grown early childhood efforts in a way that will produce education gains and save taxpayers money through reduced spending on costly remediation, criminal justice and health programs. This initiative will encourage states to build on and amplify their own early childhood efforts to reach more children with higher quality child care.

Leaders from across the country recognize the economic and social value of investments in quality early childhood education. Reauthorizing the CCDBG program is an important step in helping low income families attain safe, enriching child care while parents go to work, but far more is needed to ensure children are prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century workforce and grow our economy.”