When President Obama signed the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) reauthorization into law, it was a great victory for children and families. But signing the bill was just the first step. Now we need Congress to fund CCDBG and the other critical federal programs for families with young children.

These first days of December are extremely important if we are going to provide the resources to support high-quality early learning programs across the nation. We are working hard on Capitol Hill every day, urging the appropriators to allocate the funds children need before the adjournment of the 113th Congress. Without sufficient funding, programs all over the country are in danger of actually having to cut their child care and preschool services from what they are currently able to provide.

On an issue as critical as this, we cannot afford to move backwards. It’s not going to be easy. Congress is struggling to pass appropriations bills for a wide range of our national priorities. But investing in early childhood education is not one of those things we can just push off until later.

The New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof explored this very issue in an important op-ed last month: “the real question isn’t whether we can afford early education initiatives, but whether we can afford not to provide them,” Kristof said.

Because early education is one area where the American people, both parties in Congress and the president agree, we should also be in agreement that the children in these programs receive the funds they need.