Supporting State Systems of Early Learning Act

This week I was proud to introduce S. 470, the Supporting State Systems of Early Learning Act, to help states promote quality early learning programs. My proposal builds on the success of states like Pennsylvania and is supported by business leaders who recognize the outstanding return on investment in early childhood education.

According to a new brief by the Pew Center on the States, proven early childhood programs, like high-quality pre-kindergarten, are helping states like Pennsylvania close the educational achievement gap, which helps produce the qualified workers that the state—and our nation—need for a prosperous future.

Jack Brennan, former Chairman and CEO of the Vanguard Group and member of the Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission, joined me yesterday to discuss the importance of investing in early learning, saying “Early education is a sound investment with a proven return on investment, which is why the business community supports early learning initiatives like the Supporting State Systems of Early Learning Act that Senator Casey is introducing. This bill calls upon states, in partnership with private entities, to invest in improving the quality of early learning.”

Leading economists also recognize the importance of early learning. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in a recent speech stated that “The payoffs of early childhood programs can be especially high. For instance, preschool programs for disadvantaged children have been shown to increase high school graduation rates. Because high school graduates have higher earnings, pay more taxes, and are less likely to use public health programs, investing in such programs can pay off even from the narrow perspective of state budgets; of course, the returns to the overall economy and to the individuals themselves are much greater.”

The Supporting State Systems of Early Learning Act will establish an Early Learning Challenge Fund to help states build and strengthen systems of early learning, so that low-income children ages zero to five have greater access to high-quality early learning and development opportunities that prepare them for success in school and beyond.