By Elliot Regenstein, Senior Vice President, Advocacy & Policy
On behalf of the six million young children living in poverty in America today, we applaud President Barack Obama for increasing investments in high-quality early childhood education in his FY 2015 budget request. The budget proposal lays the foundation for his signature Preschool for All proposal – a 10 year, $75 billion commitment that will increase access to high-quality early childhood education for our country’s youngest, and most vulnerable, children.
Economist and Nobel laureate James Heckman’s research shows that investing in high-quality programs for disadvantaged children from birth to age 5 can produce returns of 7-10 percent per year for every dollar invested. A comprehensive approach to early childhood education spanning from pregnancy to birth to age five—and including home-based services as well as school-or center-based services—is key to affecting systemic change.
We were pleased to see this reflected through increased investments in Preschool Development Grants, investments in expanding access to voluntary home visiting and childcare programs through the Dept. of Health and Human Services, and an expansion of Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships. Early education highlights in the budget request include:
- $1.3 billion in mandatory funds for Preschool for All, and increased funding for Preschool Development Grants from $250 million to $750 million
- $950 million in additional funds for Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships ($1.45 billion total) to provide access for more than 100,000 children
- An additional $270 million in funding for Head Start, for a total of $8.87 billion
- An increase of $129 million for a total of $500 million in funding for Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting as the first year of a 10-year, $15 billion extension of the program
- A small increase for Part C early intervention and level funding for Part B early childhood special education
President Obama’s budget request affirms our shared belief that investments in early childhood are investments in our future. Research shows that at-risk children who attend quality early learning programs are more likely to graduate high school, attend college and contribute more to the economy. By investing in high-quality early education, we are unleashing the power of human potential.
In Illinois, nearly 1 in 2 infants and toddlers live in low-income households, and a startling twelve percent live in deep poverty. These children deserve a strong start to succeed in school and in life. When Illinois Governor Quinn releases his 2015 budget at the end of this month, we hope to see an equally strong investment in early childhood education, particularly his new Birth to Five Initiative.
Ounce of Prevention Fund
The Ounce of Prevention Fund works to ensure that all children, particularly those in poverty, have quality early childhood experiences from birth to age five. Educare Chicago, the Ounce’s state-of-the-art school on the South Side, has become a national model of high-quality early childhood education. Learn more at ounceofprevention.org.