The earliest years of a child’s life are the time of greatest brain development and opportunity. Children’s early experiences and environments build the foundation for future health, education and life outcomes. Unfortunately, the odds are stacked against the more than 3.6 million children under 6 living in poverty who too often face unsafe and stressful environments that can damage or delay their development. While high-quality early childhood programs can play an important role in buffering the negative impacts of early childhood poverty, too few poor children have access to affordable, high-quality opportunities.
We envision an America where every child regardless of race, gender or family income has access to a continuum of high-quality, comprehensive early childhood opportunities that meet their needs and the needs of their families. Providing every child this Head Start with the help of caring families and communities is necessary to guarantee a successful passage to adulthood.
We work with policymakers and community leaders to ensure every child a high-quality, early childhood education that builds a strong developmental foundation for the rest of their lives. To ensure all children a head start, we must build a high-quality continuum of early childhood opportunities for every child, including:
- Paid Family Leave so families welcoming a new child into their homes can bond with and support that child’s development before they have to return to work.
- Voluntary Home Visiting so new parents can understand the supports and resources available to them.
- Quality, Affordable Child Care so children’s development can be nurtured while their parents are at work.
- Early Head Start and Head Start for the poorest children and families so that their early needs can be met in a comprehensive way.
- Quality Preschool so children enter school ready to learn.
- Full-Day Kindergarten so children do not miss the critical step between preschool and first grade.