The President’s Early Learning Initiative: A Birth to Five Continuum of High Quality Early Care and Education

Chart representing the continuum of early care resources during each stage of development from birth to age 5.

  • Birth to age 2 includes Child Care, Home Visiting, and Early Head Start
  • Age 3 includes Child Care, Home Visiting, and Head Start
  • Age 4 includes Child Care, Home Visiting, and Pre-K
  • Age 5 includes Child Care, and Kindergarten

“In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children…studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own.  We know this works.  So let’s do what works and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind.”
- President Barack Obama (State of the Union, February 12, 2013)

President Obama at Early Child Care Education CenterThe beginning years of a child’s life are critical for building the foundation needed for success later in school and in life.  Leading economists agree that high-quality early learning programs can help level the playing field for children from lower-income families on vocabulary, social and emotional development, while helping students to stay on track and stay engaged in the early elementary grades.  Children who attend these programs are more likely to do well in school, find good jobs, and succeed in their careers than those who don’t. And research has shown that taxpayers receive a high average return on investments in high-quality early childhood education, with savings in areas like improved educational outcomes, increased labor productivity, and a reduction in crime. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at Early Care and Education Center

In his State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to expand access to high-quality preschool to every child in America.  As part of that effort, the President will propose a series of new investments that will establish a continuum of high-quality early learning for a child – beginning at birth and continuing to age 5.  By doing so, the President would invest critical resources where we know the return on our dollar is the highest: in our youngest children.

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