Sharing with you all and contributing to the conversation about early learning through our posts on All Our Words always brings us great joy. We are especially excited about today’s post, which is part of the Strong Start for Children campaign’s Early Learning Day of Action. The Early Learning Day of Action is a chance for individuals and organizations to raise awareness about the importance of early childhood experiences. From the moment a child is born, early experiences both good and bad have a deep impact on that child. Essentially, early learning begins at birth and, if we truly want to promote better outcomes for children, it is critical that we support systems that give children the foundation they need to succeed.
We were therefore very excited when President Obama proposed his Early Learning Initiative in February, which boldly calls for:
-increased access to quality child care for children ages birth to three and increased incentives for providers to meet high standards of quality through an innovative Early Head Start-Child Care partnership;
-expanding the Administration’s home visiting initiative, which supports at-risk families through the assistance of nurses, social workers, and other professionals; and
-universal preschool taught by qualified teachers for low and moderate-income 4-year olds.
What would the implementation of the proposed Early Learning Plan mean to us?
First and foremost, the implementation of the proposed Early Learning Plan would signify a long overdue investment in our children and in our nation. In difficult economic times, it is crucial that the investments we make are smart, sound investments with benefits both now and far into the future. Investing in early childhood does just this. By supporting initiatives that foster positive experiences for children starting at birth, we immediately promote the well-being of children, parents, and caregivers. These positive experiences, in turn, help children build the healthy social-emotional, physical, and cognitive capabilities that will be with them throughout their lives as they grow to be students, citizens, parents, workers, and leaders. Broadly, implementation of the proposed Early Learning Plan would mean brighter futures and stronger communities for us all.
On a more personal level, we know this plan would directly impact many of the family child care providers engaged with All Our Kin and the families they serve. Many providers engaged with us comment that despite their commitment to the field of early childhood education, they are often treated as babysitters rather than professionals. Implementation of the President’s plan would send the message that early childhood is important, and that the work of caring for children is deserving of attention and respect. A bold federal early childhood initiative would set the bar for states and localities to more meaningfully support the many caregivers serving as our children’s first teachers.
The Early Head Start-Child Care partnership is an aspect of the Early Learning Plan that we are particularly excited about. The partnership expands access to high-quality learning experiences to children ages birth to three, a time we know is critical for development. It also supports working parents by providing new, full-day comprehensive services. All Our Kin’s Early Head Start program, which operates in various family child care programs across New Haven, Connecticut, has shown us firsthand that with the proper investments, providers can reach the highest standards of quality for infants and toddlers. We hope that through the Early Learning Plan we can strengthen our Early Head Start program even further, creating bright opportunities for providers, parents, and children alike.
Connecticut has taken real action on commitments to young children, families, and caregivers. We sincerely hope that the federal government will follow suit by implementing President Obama’s bold and necessary plan.
To read more about what the President’s Early Learning Plan would mean for other individuals and organizations, visit the National Women’s Law Center’s Blog Carnival.