Today’s American students are less prepared than their parents, or their international peers, to be productive citizens, neighbors and taxpayers. To overcome these challenges, there must be a focus on fixing the problem at the beginning of a child's life, where the returns to society and the child are the greatest. At just three years of age, children of poor parents use fewer than half the words spoken by their wealthier peers. By kindergarten entry, many low-income children are so far behind that they will repeat grades, struggle through school and never graduate. This has dire consequences for state and federal budgets, public safety and the nation’s economic competitiveness; children who lack a strong start disproportionately grow to be adults who are unhealthy, are unemployed or earn lower wages, pay fewer taxes and rely more on public services.