First Focus Hails Introduction of Landmark Early Childhood Bills
Washington D.C. - Yesterday, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) unveiled his two landmark pieces of legislation that will help young children get the social, emotional, and cognitive development and learning they need to succeed. The two bills, The Starting Early, Starting Right Act (S. 1155), and The Prepare All Kids Act (S. 1156) were co-sponsored by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee on Children and Families, who promised a prompt hearing in the subcommittee and her full support in pushing these bills forward.
The bills were announced at a press conference co-sponsored by Senators Casey and Mikulski, along with actor Jennifer Garner, Ambassador for Save the Children, and Mark Shriver, Senior Vice President of U.S. Programs at Save the Children.
Bruce Lesley, President of the bipartisan child advocacy organization, First Focus, released the following statement:
“With the Starting Early, Starting Right Act and the Prepare All Kids Act, we have a roadmap that covers the entire spectrum of early childhood. These two bills provide common sense evidence-based approaches to ensuring that children from birth through kindergarten get everything they need – and the development of social, emotional, and cognitive skills – so that they will enter school ready to learn and ready to succeed.
“It is irrefutable that high quality early childhood learning and education is key to later success in life, particularly for disadvantaged children, many of whom start school behind and never catch up. The Starting Early, Starting Right Act focus on high quality child care and ensuring that every child has access to an environment that includes appropriate developmental learning and high quality teachers. It is inexcusable that here in the United States, only 1 in 7 eligible children has access to the kind of early care every child needs.
“With the Prepare All Kids Act, Senator Casey has again provided a roadmap for ensuring that in the critical pre-kindergarten years, children have access to high quality developmentally appropriate learning that will give them skills that last a lifetime. The Prepare All Kids Act also lays out a format for ensuring that all key players in early childhood – including parents, community leaders, child care providers, Head Start teachers and administrators, school district personnel, and all those involved in early learning – can coordinate and streamline services for children so that no child falls through the cracks.
“As Congress continues to debate the nation’s budget and deficit challenges, we urge Members to consider the critical importance of continued investments in our children to ensure we do not pay more later for remedial services in education, child welfare and juvenile justice. We also urge the Congress to be mindful of the critical role that early childhood investments play in keeping our global economy strong and our country safe.”