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More than 300 business leaders and organizations from 44 states sign letter asking lawmakers to support early childhood programs

Letter delivered to President Obama and Congressional Members

 

America’s Promise Alliance and its early childhood project ReadyNation today announced that more than 300 business leaders and organizations from 44 states around the country have signed an open letter to President Obama and Members of Congress declaring support for early childhood programs. Citing the benefits early childhood programs provide to the nation’s economy, workforce preparedness, and standing in the global marketplace, business leaders are asking the nation’s leaders to make it a national priority to invest in the academic and social development of young children. The full letter and list of signatories can be found at www.readynation.org.  

The letter was sent to the White House and Congressional offices this morning and will be delivered to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius tomorrow at a meeting with John Pepper, retired CEO of Procter & Gamble, James Zimmerman, retired CEO of Macy's, Inc. and other business leaders. Both Mr. Pepper and Mr. Zimmerman signed the letter and will discuss their specific support for early childhood programs and how the business community is helped by these investments.

“This letter shows that quality early childhood programs are important to more than just parents and schools,” said John Gomperts, president and CEO, America’s Promise Alliance. “Business leaders understand the significance of the connection between giving children a high-quality education, starting in the earliest years, and strengthening our workforce and economy.”

Business executives who signed the letter come from a range of companies such as Delta Airlines, McKinsey & Company and PNC Financial Services Group, as well as major business organizations such as state and local Chambers of Commerce and Business Roundtables. 

“More and more business people are supporting the need for additional funding for early childhood. More states and the federal government need to do the same. Why?  Because investing in early childhood achieves the best ROI for our country,” said James M. Zimmerman, retired CEO, Macy’s, Inc. “Currently more than 90 percent of our education dollars are spent after age five, yet 85 percent of a child’s core brain structure is developed before age five. This should have nothing to do with politics and everything to do with good business decisions. 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." 

The letter offers the following six recommendations for shaping public policies around early childhood:

  • Prioritize programs with research-documented benefits for children and society, such as quality early education for children ages birth to five, home visiting and health care
  • Address children in the entire prenatal to age five spectrum, and their parents
  • Focus first on children from low- to moderate-income families and other children at greater risk for academic difficulties
  • Give parents high quality options with a variety of partners and settings, including the private sector
  • Encourage higher standards for federal and state programs while offering them flexibility on the delivery of those services
  • Closely track progress on children’s health, development and other outcomes with rigorous evaluations that encourage improvement

“The proof is overwhelming that public investments in early childhood education pay huge dividends. Not only does quality early childhood education lead to higher levels of academic success and a more prepared workforce, but it also reduces dependency on our nation’s safety net programs. For these reasons, we need to help more children get a good start in life,” said Dave Adkisson, president and CEO, Kentucky State Chamber of Commerce.

A recent survey by ReadyNation titled Championing Success: Business Organizations for Early Childhood Investments found that business support for early childhood is widespread.  Since 2007, business organizations in nearly all states (49 states) have publicly supported early childhood programs and initiatives in some way. Survey findings also revealed that early childhood—traditionally viewed as a family or social services issue—has become more of an education and economic development issue for businesses. Research has shown that high quality programs, especially for disadvantaged children, can return as much as $7 for each dollar invested.  

ReadyNation is an influential network of executives, economists and civic leaders that work together to amplify the voice of business in support of smart early childhood policy and programs at the state and federal levels. Since 2006, it has supported business coalitions in over half the states. ReadyNation joined America’s Promise in January 2012 to expand our support for early childhood as a key starting point in improving high school graduation rates and delivering the Five Promises. Prior to February 2012, it was called the Partnership for America's Economic Success.