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More than 1 in 5 children under age 5 are poor during the years of greatest brain development. High-quality early childhood development and learning opportunities from birth through age 5 help buffer the negative impacts of growing up poor and lead to lifelong benefits but access to these quality programs is far too limited. Only four percent of eligible infants and toddlers and 41 percent of eligible 3- and 4-year-olds have access to Early Head Start and Head Start and only 23 percent of federal-eligible working parents have access to child care subsidies.
Studies reveal that those enrolled in high quality early childhood education programs are subsequently more likely to complete higher levels of education, have higher earnings, be in better health and be in stable relationships, and are less likely to commit a crime or be incarcerated.
We must ensure that a continuum of high-quality, affordable early childhood development and learning opportunities is available for all children and their families from birth through age 5.