Proponents for early childhood education are supporting bipartisan legislation that will mean expanding access to and quality of early learning programs for children in Los Angeles County and across the nation
LOS ANGELES - First 5 LA, Los Angeles County Supervisor and First 5 LA Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Dr. John Deasy, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce along with notable early childhood advocacy leaders, including the Advancement Project, Children Now, Early Edge California, ZERO TO THREE, and LAUP, come out in strong support for early childhood education and the Strong Start for America's Children Act of 2013.
Introduced today by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representatives George Miller (DCA) and Richard Hanna (R-NY), this bipartisan legislation will expand high-quality early childhood education for children ages 0-5 by building on the framework outlined by President Obama in his 2013 State of the Union address. With 40 states and the District of Columbia currently offering state-funded pre-kindergarten programs, the Strong Start for America's Children Act will accelerate the progress already made by states with bipartisan support from governors across the country. The proposal will support states wanting to start or expand high-quality early learning programs and will build on existing investments in Head Start. In addition, the Strong Start for America's Children Act will improve access to high- quality early-childhood care and education for infants and toddlers.
Brain science and program research are overwhelmingly on the side of this policy proposal: children who have benefited from quality early learning opportunities are ready to learn when they enter kindergarten and are more prepared to meet the challenges of our economy and society. First 5 LA has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to quality early childhood education through investments in improving the early education workforce, ensuring that pre-school programs are of high quality and funding direct pre- school services.
As one of the largest, most diverse and complex geographic regions in the United States, Los Angeles County is home to the largest population of low income and at-risk children ages birth to 5 years old in California. Access to quality services is a key issue: for every 100 children ages birth to 5 in Los Angeles County, there are only 22 licensed early learning spaces. The Strong Start for America's Children Act will increase access to quality early learning programs for children across the county and allow the children most in need of support to enroll in programs that build the skills needed to close the achievement gap so that every child meets his or her full potential.
In a statement about the Strong Start for America's Children Act, First 5 LA's Executive Director Kim Belshe said, "As First 5 LA enters its 15th year of advocacy and grantmaking for the children and families of LA County, I am excited to see this legislation which provides an opportunity to ensure every child is ready to succeed in school. Expanding access to quality early childhood investments is a smart investment for the child, the family, the community and the economy."
According to LA County Supervisor and First 5 LA Chairman Mark Ridley- Thomas, "With the Strong Start for America's Children Act, LA County's most promising and vulnerable children will be afforded equal opportunity to participate in quality preschool and early learning programs. This access will help to ensure a robust future for our county's students, families and economy."
LAUSD Superintendent Dr. John Deasy noted, "The Strong Start for America's Children Act will assist school districts like LAUSD, who have a standing commitment to early learning, enroll more children into higher quality programs that prepare them for success in the K-12 system, and in life.
Participating Organization Media Contacts:
- First 5 LA: Francisco Oaxaca, (213) 482-7804
- Los Angeles Unified School District: Tom Waldman, (213) 241-6766
- Office of Supv. Mark Ridley Thomas: Sharita Moon (213) 974-2222
- Advancement Project: Kim Pattillo Brownson, (213) 989-1300
- Children Now: Jennifer Hoffecker, (510) 763-2444 ext. 119
- Early Edge California: Molly Tafoya, (510) 271-0075 ext. 316 Cell: (808) 256-7064
- LAUP: Naomi Rodriguez, (213) 416-1305
- Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce: Ani Okkasian, (213) 580-7544
- ZERO TO THREE: Tahra Goraya, (213) 481- 7279