Public Supports Investments in Early Learning; Will Congress Listen?

By Hannah Matthews

Seventy percent of Americans favor providing 4-year-olds with access to high-quality preschool, according to results of a national survey of voters released today by the First Five Years Fund (FFYF). The survey found that approval of early learning investments was strong across party lines. Support for a plan similar to the President’s early learning proposal increased to 77 percent when respondents were told explicitly that the proposal would not add to the deficit, including 72 percent support from Republicans, 71 percent from Independents and 88 percent from Democrats. A majority of voters (51 percent) strongly support such a proposal.

It’s no surprise that voters agree with increased investments in early learning. Parents, economists, and business leaders understand that learning begins at birth and that investments in quality early childhood programs help children succeed in school and in life.

Three in five voters want Congress to act on legislation now rather than wait. Will Congress listen? The answer is unclear. Recently the Senate Appropriations Committee showed its support for investing in early learning. However, when the House takes up its version of a spending bill, the outcome is likely to be different. The overall spending framework adopted by the House would force cuts on many programs, including child care and early education.

The President proposed funding his Preschool for All initiative through an increased tobacco tax, which would not require the House or Senate to allocate funding each year. Regardless, policymakers in both houses must appreciate the value in investments that support our youngest children-investments that have been shown to result in economic savings down the line.

Read FFYF’s poll results here.