The Need

Less than half of low-income children have access to high-quality early childhood programs that could dramatically improve their opportunities for a better future. This statistic is tragic when one considers that skills developed in the first five years of life greatly influence success later in life.

Expanding access and options for parents to provide their children a quality early childhood education has proven benefits for individuals and society in reduced healthcare costs, increased school achievement and a more educated workforce. Research shows that the benefits of early childhood education are the greatest and longest-lasting when investments target low-income children and families. In the United States:

  • Less than one in five low-income children are enrolled in high-quality early childhood education. [1]
  • Regardless of income, most voters say there is a lack of affordable, high-quality early childhood education programs in their area. [2]
  • Nearly 90% of children who are eligible for support from some federal programs do not receive it because of a lack of federal funding. [3]
  • Only 44% of children in rural areas are enrolled in preschool services in comparison to urban and suburban areas, where 79% of children participate. [1]
  • Children of low socioeconomic status often receive lower-quality care and have limited access to programs. [4]
  • Early interventions targeted at children from underserved communities have higher returns than costly remediation interventions targeted later in life. [5]
  • Head Start programs currently serve less than 20% of three- and four-year-olds from “low-income backgrounds,” or families with income levels of under 200% of the federal poverty line. [6]