Looking for an easy way to brighten up your Monday morning? Add this to your to-do list, then promptly check it right off: speak up for early learning.

Thanks to the new state preschool yearbook from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), we have an up-to-date assessment of where states stand in regard to delivering high-quality preschool opportunities. While you delve into your state’s profile, the overall picture is clear: the recession and the pressure to balance state budgets have significantly reduced the number of children served-children who need quality early learning in order to succeed in school and life.

And we all know that’s only part of the backsliding story. Due to sequestration, funding has also been cut to programs for infants and toddlers, such as Early Head Start and child care, which are vitally important to preventing the achievement gap and preparing children for school.

The findings in this year’s NIEER report represent an unprecedented opportunity for advocates to call on decision-makers to reverse this trend. States have led the way in building strong early learning systems, and now it’s time for Congress come together to help them continue to innovate, evolve, and deliver cost efficient programs with high economic returns on investment.

This year’s report also underscores the need for congressional support for President Obama’s early childhood initiative which would help states continue their efforts to improve education, health, and economic outcomes by providing families with greater access to quality early childhood development programs from birth to age five. Today’s news reminds us how urgently disadvantaged children and families need a comprehensive birth-to-five plan that puts them on a path to success.

So let’s remind Congress that now is the time to take action on this critical issue. The recent easing of sequestration’s effects on flight delays shows that Congress can and will act to prioritize critical investments. Quality early childhood programs are a critical part of our nation’s economic strength, and without them young at-risk children are stuck on the runway.

To make it easier to leverage this morning’s news into this afternoon’s action, FFYF refreshed our federal outreach toolkit. Here you can find our latest infographic, plus talking points and templates (feel free to add your logo and circulate to your networks!) for op-eds, letters to the editor, and blog posts designed to help our state partners support the president’s proposal and keep up the drumbeat of voices reminding decision-makers that now is the time to Invest In US.