National Business Leaders Advocate for Early Childhood Development

By guest blogger Sean Meehan

More than 300 business leaders and organizations have signed an open letter to President Obama and Congress asking that they increase funding for early childhood education. The letter will be delivered to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius in a meeting on May 30.

The letter, which will be presented by former Macy’s Inc. CEO James Zimmerman and former Procter & Gamble CEO John Pepper, is sponsored by America’s Promise Alliance, a foundation for youth created by former Secretary of State Colin Powell. The letter is part of the alliance’s ReadyNation program which specifically focuses on programs aimed at children ages birth to five years old and argues that helping children early in life has a lasting, positive impact on not only their development, but only society.

“The federal government must increase its investment in early childhood either by finding new funding sources or reallocating existing ones, but ultimately we need to put more resources into quality, evidence based early childhood programs,” Zimmerman said.
Signers of the letter include current and former high-ranking officials at Citi, IBM, PepsiCo, Xerox, and PNC, as well as chambers of commerce and other business organizations from around the country.

In addition to its focus on prenatal to age five care, ReadyNation also specifically calls for increasing support for children from low- to moderate-income families, increasing the amount of high-quality public and private early-childhood development options for parents, encouraging higher federal and local standards for child development programs , and carefully monitoring effectiveness of early-childhood policies.

The letter comes at a time when early-childhood development and education is receiving attention from policymakers at all levels. The topic also has bipartisan support, said Sara Watson, the director of ReadyNation. In the past year, she noted, 27 governors, 12 Republicans and 15 Democrats mentioned early-childhood development in their State of the State addresses.

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