A Fair Start
In order for every child to have equitable access to high-quality early care and education, our societal values need to be in-sync with the science of early childhood. We need to act on what we know and create a national early childhood education structure that is family-centered, efficient, accountable, and instep with the K-12 system.
Two hundred years ago the U.S. established universal access to the K-12 education system, and 100 years ago our public system of higher education was established. It is now time to democratize early childhood education in the U.S. and revolutionize the care and education of our youngest citizens. It is essential for every child care program to be an enriched learning environment, and this starts with federal policy and funding. A unified federal structure for ECE could combine existing Department of Education programs like Head Start, with child care subsidy dollars from the Department of Health and Human Services. This would result in the optimization of current funding and establish ECE as a child-focused early learning service and not simply a work support for parents.
Our advocacy agenda starts with the establishment of a national early childhood education structure, yet this is only the beginning. Until we experience a true society-wide values shift and prioritize the first five years as the greatest opportunity for putting kids on a course for life success, we will not achieve our goal of universal access to high quality ECE. Parents, employers, state and local governments, faith communities, the child care sector, non-governmental organizations, and philanthropists all have a role in this revolution.