Last week, a landmark, bipartisan bill was introduced in Congress: the Strong Start for America’s Children Act. This Act proposes investments that would give many more children access to the early learning experiences they need and deserve. The Act would expand access to preschool for low- and moderate-income children and create partnerships between Early Head Start and child care providers to help more infants and toddlers receive high-quality early experiences across settings. At All Our Kin, we’re especially excited about the Act’s supports for infants and toddlers and its recognition of family child care providers’ vital role in laying a strong foundation for children.
We know that the quality of care that infants and toddlers receive has a profound impact on their development. Children’s first experiences shape the very architecture of their brains, establishing the basis for language, the senses, and cognitive functioning. High-quality early care lays the foundation for later health and learning.
The Act would provide federal funding for high-quality programs serving children in their first few years of life. It would also create innovative Early Head Start-child care partnerships to allow more infants and toddlers, across child care settings, to access programs that encourage their healthy development. These partnerships would include family child care programs as well as center-based programs. We applaud the authors of the Act for taking steps both to strengthen infant and toddler care and to recognize family child care providers as partners in improving children’s well-being.
In a statement released by the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy made a strong case for providing high-quality experiences to children in their first few years of life. Murphy, a co-sponsor of the Strong Start Act, stated: “Countless studies have shown what parents already know: that these early years are critical for a child’s development and success in the long run. This bill invests in essential early childhood education for children across the country, regardless of where they live or how much money their parents make. I’m confident that the investments our bill makes will not only greatly improve a child’s quality of life in the early years, but will also set them up for educational success as they get older.”
You can learn more about the bill by reading summaries from the Committee on Education and the Workforce, the National Women’s Law Center, and Zero to Three. Zero to Three also has a great infographic on how the Act would impact infants and toddlers, in case you’re interested in more specifics on those features of the legislation.
At All Our Kin, we believe that every child deserves access to early learning experiences like those promised by the Strong Start for America’s Children Act. If you agree and would like to voice your support for this bill, you can add your name to an open letter to Congress from the National Association for the Education of Young Children or compose a letter to your Senator through the Parents as Teachers Action Center. You can also urge your representatives to sign on as co-sponsors of the bill through the National Women’s Law Center site. We hope you’ll join us in raising awareness and rallying support for this potentially transformative legislation.