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President Obama Commits to Early Education in State of the Union Address

In his State of the Union Address on February 12, 2013, President Barack Obama encouraged Congress to support a bold and comprehensive plan that would make high-quality preschool accessible to every child in the United States. To support his position, the President drew on research studies (such as HighScope's Perry Preschool Study) that have shown the positive effects of high-quality preschool programs on young children's long-term academic and life success. As President Obama noted, research also shows that such programs yield a high average return on investment to society. Emphasizing these benefits, President Obama outlined the following proposals:

  • Federal-state partnerships to provide all low- and moderate-income four-year-old children with high-quality preschool, and expansion of these programs to reach children from middle-class families
  • Investment in a new Early Head Start-Child Care partnership with competitive grants to support communities in expanding high-quality Early Head Start and child care programs for infants and toddlers (from birth through age 3)
  • Expansion of voluntary home visiting programs, through which nurses, social workers and other professionals would connect the most vulnerable children and families in the US to services and educational support

The President's plan, designed to reduce achievement gaps and improve outcomes for all children, is receiving wide support from the early childhood community. HighScope President Larry Schweinhart commented, “HighScope has long stood for high-quality preschool programs that have long-term effects and strong return on investment. President Obama’s bold proposal offers hope that this vision can become a reality throughout the US.”

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) also issued this statement: "Now more than ever, addressing the gaps in policies and resources will help America prosper and every child thrive. It's a matter of equity both of access and quality. We know how, now we must commit to doing it."

For more information on President Obama’s proposals, see the White House Fact Sheet “President Obama’s Plan for Early Education for all Americans.”


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