Today, Congress sent a clear message to the nation.
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Congressman George Miller (D-CA) introduced the Strong Start for America’s Children Act of 2013 in the Senate and House, respectively. Flanked by Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY), Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and actress Jennifer Garner, Harkin and Miller introduced the bill before a packed room of early education advocates including parents, educators, and members of the law enforcement, military, and business communities – and children!
“Families are trying to give their children the right start in life and are not given the opportunity. They deserve better”
Education Secretary Arne Duncan on the Strong Start for America’s Children Act.
The legislation would follow much of President Obama’s FY 2014 Budget proposal:
- Creating a new program providing enhanced access to preschool for 4-year-olds
- Expanding partnerships between Early Head Start and child care programs, and
- Provide guidance on the importance of home visiting
Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia currently offer state-funded pre-kindergarten programs. The Harkin-Miller-Hanna proposal would build on these existing state programs, while supporting infrastructure development in states without programs.
At the same time, the proposal ensures families have increased access to quality care, by including more funds for quality initiatives in child care settings and expanding partnerships with Early Head Start programs in their communities.
The Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) Committee passed the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act in September. Now, along with the Harkin-Miller-Hanna proposal, we continue to see Congress is listening, and they know children and families deserve better.
Although there is still work to do, the Harkin-Miller-Hanna legislation is a vital step forward validating the importance of quality early learning experiences nationwide.