LOS ANGELES –First 5 LA has released the following statement from Executive Director Kim Belshé responding to today’s announced proposal by Governor-elect Gavin Newsom to invest approximately $1.8 billion in child development programs to boost early learning and foundation health supports for young children and families:

“By making early childhood development a priority, Governor-elect Newsom is taking smart first steps toward a future that strengthens our economy and positions the Golden State as a leader in early childhood development.

“Studies show that significant investments in a child’s first years have an enormous positive impact – for them and for all of society. Economist and Nobel Laureate James Heckman found that high-quality birth-to-5 programs for disadvantaged children can deliver a 13 percent return on investment—higher than at any other time in life. According to Stanford’s Getting Down to Facts II report, too many of our kids have insufficient early childhood educational opportunities, enter kindergarten unprepared for school, and seldom catch up. The sad fact is that children who start behind stay behind, particularly those from either low-income families, communities of color, and who are English-language learners. This achievement gap has lasting, negative impacts on our kids’ long-term success and our state’s economy.

“The Governor-elect is wise to build on the investments State Legislature leaders have prioritized during the past two years. There is important work ahead for Governor-elect Newsom, State Legislative leaders and early childhood supporters across the state to work together to build a comprehensive early childhood development agenda that integrates quality early learning, strong and well-supported families, and access to early screening services. The Governor-elect is showing he understands the connections between health and education in early childhood development and is clearly ready to lead.

“We look forward to working with the Governor-elect in prioritizing California’s youngest residents in policy and budget decisions.”