Policy Priorities

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Early Childhood Development and Learning

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Full-Day Kindergarten
Speaking for Children

Thought leaders in early childhood development discuss the benefits of full-day Kindergarten
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Investments in early childhood are vital to the success of our nation's youth. Extensive research has shown that early childhood programs significantly increase a child's chances of avoiding the prison pipeline. Furthermore, these programs have well-documented economic and societal value. Studies have shown that investments in quality early education can produce a rate of return to society significantly higher than returns to most stock market investments or traditional economic development projects.

Despite these encouraging reports, thousands of children across the country are still waiting for the chance to participate in quality early childhood programs. CDF fully understands the need for consistent, quality education and care beginning at birth. Our nation simply can’t afford not to significantly increase investments in early childhood development and care, or to keep leaving so many poor babies and toddlers behind.

Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 Passed by Congress

The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) provides low-income, working families with subsidies to help reduce the cost of child care. These subsidies are a crucial support for working families; however, since CCDBG was last authorized by Congress in 1996, much has been learned about the importance of quality early environments on children's developing minds. The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 (S.1086), approved by the House of Representatives in September and the Senate on November 17th takes a major step forward for children and families by guaranteeing new health and safety protections for children in child care, improving the quality of child care for children, and making it easy for families to maintain stable access to child care. More work must still be done to ensure CCDBG has enough funding to serve all eligible children and families. Learn more on how S.1086 will improve the quality of child care for children and families.

Strong Start for America's Children Act

The Strong Start for America's Children Act (S. 1697/H.R. 3461) invests in and encourages expansions of high quality home visiting programs, Early Head Start, Head Start, child care, pre-kindergarten and quality kindergarten programs to provide high quality early childhood development and learning experiences for low-income and vulnerable children from birth through age 5. Read our short summary of this important legislation to see how the Strong Start for America's Children Act offers new hope for children and families. Read our summary of the latest research to discover why these new investments are so crucial for our children and our future and take action!

New Data on Early Childhood Education and Care

The State of America's Children® 2014, a compilation of the most recent and reliable national and state-by-state data on key child indicators, including early childhood education and care. Among other selections, the Early Childhood section of the report includes state data Head Start enrollment, the cost of child care and child care subsidies, the Child Care and Development Fund, Pre-K enrollment, and state-by-state comparisons of child care center regulations. Only 4 percent of eligible infants and toddlers are able to secure spots in Early Head Start due to limited funding. Learn more about what our failure to invest in children in the early years means for all of us through our "Be Careful What You Cut” campaign".


50 States. Every Child. Every School.

 In the 21st century, we have new common core standards setting high expectations for every child including kindergarteners. We need to prepare all of our children to compete in this global economy but for millions of children in the United States there is a missing half-step in their early learning years. Full-day kindergarten (Full-Day K) boosts children’s cognitive learning, creative problem-solving skills, and social competence. Join us in our campaign to ensure every state and the District of Columbia guarantees every child with access to high-quality, publicly funded Full-Day K. Click on our interactive map to find out the status of Full-Day K in your state and download your state-specific fact sheet to arm yourself with the latest information.

Be sure to check out the 2013 Children in the States one-page fact sheets which provide the most recent and reliable information on children in your state. Find out how often a child is born into poverty in your state. The information includes child population, educational achievement, child welfare statistics, state rankings and more. Share our 2013 Children in the States map and fact sheets at your next community or school board meeting.

Increasing Access to Full-Day Kindergarten

Increasing Access to Full-Day K: A Key Strategy for Boosting Learning and Closing Achievement Gaps for Children describes the current reality of Full-Day K in the country and provides a summary of state funding patterns. A concise discussion of how students benefit from full-day kindergarten, its place in the PreK-3rd grade early learning continuum, and its relevance in the context of the Common Core State Standards is provided. National, state and local level policy recommendations are provided so all children have equal access to publicly funded Full-Day K.

A Strong Start

The Addressing Achievement Gaps Symposium “A Strong Start: Positioning Young Black Boys for Educational Success” which took place in June 2011, was devoted to the challenges facing Black boys in their early years. CDF partnered with ETS to explore the challenges facing this vulnerable population and the opportunities to position young Black boys for educational success.

Learn more about the event and speakers and watch video of the symposium.

Angie Salazar - From Head Start to Harvard

Head Start has proven results. Children who participate are school ready, less likely to need special education, more likely to graduate high school and go on to college. Check out Angie’s story, and tell Congress, don’t cut Head Start.