Shaquita Ogletree

On Thursday, March 13, America Forward and its network partners, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Save the Children Action Network, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, hosted an event that explored early childhood education and the importance of the first five years in a child’s life.

Ranking Member of the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) discussed why Congress must come together to advance critical early childhood policies to benefit both young children and their families. He stated that the Labor HHS Appropriations Committee are all wanting to do the “right and smart thing.” He told the group not to let all the yelling over the President’s budget and negotiations distract the bipartisan issues that have been a focus of Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee.

The purpose of the briefing was to speak about why investing in early childhood, including children, young parents and early childhood educators can confront our country’s most pressing problems and ensure our nation is brighter, stronger, and more competitive.

Part of the briefing featured a film, No Small Matter, which confronts America’s most pressing problems with an unlikely but powerful weapon: babies and young children. From home to child care to preschool, high-quality early care and education has far-reaching impacts, and groundbreaking science to back it up. With a healthy dose of humor and surprising edge, No Small Matter reveals the tragic cost of getting it wrong, and the huge payoff – for our kids, families, and our country – of getting it right.

The panel of early childhood experts included Judith Jerald, Save the Children, Deborah Phillips, Georgetown University, Rosa Maria Castañeda, Annie E. Casey, and Maria-Isabel Ballivian, ACCA Child Development Center. Phillips discussed how science development had shifted the debate in need to invest in early childhood education. Ballivian explained how, as a provider, she has seen the need to invest more into early childhood particularly into the workforce. In Arlington, Virginia the average early childhood education teacher makes $12.71, and the living wage in the county is $31.40. There is a need to invest in workforce development, early education and childhood support, and quality improvement stated Jerald.

The historic increases in the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) of $2.3 billion (FY 2018 and FY 2019) assisted with decreasing the child care waiting list however more investment is needed. Only a fraction of eligible children can access services, and many families live in child care deserts where there are three or more children for one available slot. The CCDBG funding increase for the fiscal year 2020 is a priority of America Forward and its partners.

To get more information on the film No Small Matter to your organization, visit www.nosmallmatter.com.

About the Author:

John Sciamanna is CWLA's Vice President of Public Policy.

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