Statement on the White House Summit on Early Education and Invest in US Challenge to the Nation

By Diana Mendley Rauner, President, Ounce of Prevention Fund

CHICAGO (December 10, 2014) — The Ounce of Prevention Fund has been at the forefront of leveraging public and private funding to meet the needs of at-risk children and families for more than three decades. Today we are proud to join the civic and business leaders – corporations, philanthropists, advocates, public officials and individuals – who are answering the Invest In Us challenge to increase access to and quality of early childhood education. Increased investments enable the early learning field to innovate and improve quality while continuing to provide the vital early childhood education services families need.

Economist and Nobel laureate James Heckman’s research shows that investing in high-quality programs for disadvantaged children from birth to age five can produce returns of 7-10 percent per year for every dollar invested. Early childhood education has the power to strengthen our economy by preparing a skilled workforce, improving public welfare and health, and reducing social spending. Every additional dollar we invest – whether public or private – in early childhood education, we invest in our nation’s future.

Invest In Us builds upon the nationwide groundswell of support for early childhood education and care as well as a growing collection of research that demonstrates the benefits of investing in children’s development from birth to age five. Early interventions—including prenatal care, home visiting, and center-based early learning programs—are proven to prepare children for success in school and in life. They provide the resources and support to build the strong parent-child relationships that are key to children’s cognitive and social-emotional development. Yet these programs are underfunded and leave parents and educators unsupported. It’s up to all of us to help change that.

Invest In Us commitments are intended to increase access to high-quality programs by strengthening public systems at the federal, state and local levels, improving educator training, and promoting innovation and improvement of evidence-based programs. These commitments directly echo the work of the Ounce. Our programs are based in research and help to close the achievement gap. We empower parents through doula and home visiting programs; create quality early learning experiences through Educare Schools; increase quality throughout the field through professional development; and advocate for programs and policies that prepare children to enter kindergarten ready to learn and succeed.

We have pioneered a model for bringing the public and private sectors together to improve outcomes for our youngest and most vulnerable citizens, and look forward to sharing our learnings and working together to unlock the potential within all children. We join the many partners of Invest In Us in calling for increased commitments to expanding high-quality early childhood education.