Early Childhood

Marian Wright Edelman Statement in Support of Legislation to Expand Access to High-quality Early Learning Programs

For Immediate Release
November 13, 2013

For More Information Contact:
Raymonde Charles
Press Secretary
202-662-3508 office

WASHINGTON, DC — The Children’s Defense Fund Action Council applauds the Strong Start for America’s Children Act that is being introduced today in the U.S. Senate, which expands critical access to high-quality early learning programs for children birth through age five.

“The Strong Start for America’s Children Act lays the foundation for educational success for millions of children in poor families. Our country’s top economists and researchers acknowledge investments in high quality early childhood development and learning programs, especially for our most disadvantaged children, are the best education and economic investment we can make for the future of the nation.

“Offering children birth through five a continuum of quality early childhood supports will reduce poverty, level the playing field and strengthen our future generations and workforce. It is the right thing to do and the smart thing to do. We all need to contribute to make it happen. We all stand to benefit,” said Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund and its Action Council whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.

Building on the framework put forward by President Obama in his 2013 State of the Union address, the bill focuses on four key goals:

  • Boosting funding for high-quality preschool programs serving children in poor and low income families
  • Increasing the quality of infant and toddler care offered by providers
  • Supporting broad-scale quality improvements in child care programs, and
  • Encouraging continued support for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program.

The legislation was announced at an event today held in the Senate Visitor Center with preschool children, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, actress Jennifer Garner, parents, educators, as well as members of the law enforcement, military, and business communities. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee—along with Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)—introduced the legislation today in the U.S. Senate. Congressman George Miller (D-CA) and Congressman Richard Hanna (R-NY) introduced similar legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.