From President Obama’s $75 billion pledge to make preschool affordable for all four-year-olds to the recent creation of Connecticut’s Office of Early Childhood, 2013 has seen exciting new developments in policymaker support for early childhood education. For parents, caregivers, and supporting organizations like All Our Kin, the question now is how to keep this energy going forward, and how to expand these efforts to include all young children, especially children under three.
It is essential that improvements to the availability and quality of early care reach children at one of their most critical stages of development and learning: the first three years of their lives. That’s why the advocacy organization Zero to Three is working today to promote “public policies [that] focus on the healthy development of babies and toddles as an essential part of preparing children for success.” Instead of an in-person action, Zero to Three is hosting a virtual rally, named Rally4Babies. Supporters across the world can come together online to urge lawmakers to make the first years of life a priority.
Supporters are encouraged to sign a petition that will go to the President and Congress, urging them to “start with the babies,” as “when infants and toddlers get a strong start, our nation prospers.” A virtual conversation between leaders in early childhood education and celebrity supporters will air live at 2 PM.
Soledad O’Brien, a journalist and the CEO of Starfish Media group, will host guests including Arne Duncan, Secretary of the Department of Education, and Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Jennifer Garner, actress and Save the Children Artist Ambassador, Alma Powell, chair of the board of America’s Promise Alliance, and children’s musician Laurie Berkner will also take part.
Rally4Babies does not only aim to push policymakers to action with a petition. Community awareness and dialogue on issues of early childhood is equally central. Supporters can use the hashtag #Rally4Babies and share posts from Zero to Three or All Our Kin’s Facebook or Twitter to spread the word about the importance of investing in the early years.
It’s essential for supporters of high-quality, accessible early childhood education to mobilize at this exciting moment. At All Our Kin, helping providers and families give children high-quality learning experiences in the first years of their lives is at the heart of our mission, and this isn’t possible without the ongoing support of lawmakers—and, more importantly, community members. The strides forward that the state and the nation have made would not have been possible without this energy, and the Rally4Babies is an ideal opportunity to send a clear message that children remain a priority.