Local Public Officials and Childhood Advocates Endorse Introduction of President's Pre-School For All Plan

Proponents for early childhood education are supporting bipartisan legislation that will mean expanding access to and quality of early learning programs for children in Los Angeles County and across the nation

Nov 14, 2013, 20:13 ET from First 5 LA

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- First 5 LA, Los Angeles County Supervisor and First 5 LA Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Dr. John Deasy, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce along with notable early childhood advocacy leaders, including the Advancement Project, Children Now, Early Edge California, ZERO TO THREE, and LAUP, come out in strong support for early childhood education and the Strong Start for America's Children Act of 2013.

Introduced today by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representatives George Miller (D-CA) and Richard Hanna (R-NY), this bipartisan legislation will expand high-quality early childhood education for children ages 0-5 by building on the framework outlined by President Obama in his 2013 State of the Union address. With 40 states and the District of Columbia currently offering state-funded pre-kindergarten programs, the Strong Start for America's Children Act will accelerate the progress already made by states with bipartisan support from governors across the country. The proposal will support states wanting to start or expand high-quality early learning programs and will build on existing investments in Head Start. In addition, the Strong Start for America's Children Act will improve access to high-quality early-childhood care and education for infants and toddlers.

Brain science and program research are overwhelmingly on the side of this policy proposal: children who have benefited from quality early learning opportunities are ready to learn when they enter kindergarten and are more prepared to meet the challenges of our economy and society.  First 5 LA has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to quality early childhood education through investments in improving the early education workforce, ensuring that pre-school programs are of high quality and funding direct pre-school services.  

As one of the largest, most diverse and complex geographic regions in the United States, Los Angeles County is home to the largest population of low income and at-risk children ages birth to 5 years old in California.  Access to quality services is a key issue: for every 100 children ages birth to 5 in Los Angeles County, there are only 22 licensed early learning spaces. The Strong Start for America's Children Act will increase access to quality early learning programs for children across the county and allow the children most in need of support to enroll in programs that build the skills needed to close the achievement gap so that every child meets his or her full potential.

In a statement about the Strong Start for America's Children Act, First 5 LA's Executive Director Kim Belshe said, "As First 5 LA enters its 15th year of advocacy and grantmaking for the children and families of LA County, I am excited to see this legislation which provides an opportunity to ensure every child is ready to succeed in school. Expanding access to quality early childhood investments is a smart investment for the child, the family, the community and the economy."

According to LA County Supervisor and First 5 LA Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, "With the Strong Start for America's Children Act, LA County's most promising and vulnerable children will be afforded equal opportunity to participate in quality preschool and early learning programs. This access will help to ensure a robust future for our county's students, families and economy."  

LAUSD Superintendent Dr. John Deasy noted, "The Strong Start for America's Children Act will assist school districts like LAUSD, who have a standing commitment to early learning, enroll more children into higher quality programs that prepare them for success in the K-12 system, and in life.

Participating Organization Media Contacts:

First 5 LA:

Francisco Oaxaca, (213) 482-7804

Los Angeles Unified School District:

Tom Waldman, (213) 241-6766

Office of Supv. Mark Ridley Thomas:

Sharita Moon (213) 974-2222

Advancement Project:

Kim Pattillo Brownson, (213) 989-1300

Children Now:

Jennifer Hoffecker, (510) 763-2444 ext. 119

Early Edge California:

Molly Tafoya, (510) 271-0075 ext. 316

Cell: (808) 256-7064


Naomi Rodriguez, (213) 416-1305

Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce: 

Ani Okkasian, (213) 580-7544


Tahra Goraya, (213) 481-7279

About First 5 LA

First 5 LA oversees the L.A. County allocation of funds from Proposition 10, which added a 50-cent tax on tobacco products sold in California. Funds raised help pay for health care, education and child development programs for children from the prenatal stage to age five and their families. First 5 LA's mission is to increase the number of young children who are physically and emotionally healthy, safe, and ready to learn. For more information, please visit www.first5la.org.

What LA's Early Education Leaders are Saying…

Early Edge California

"We know that a child's early experiences in programs like preschool and transitional kindergarten profoundly shape their potential to succeed in school and life," said Catherine Atkin, President of Early Edge California. "This new federal-state partnership is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss. Through it, we can begin to lay the foundation early by focusing on children's learning starting at birth, and getting them ready for kindergarten to ensure they are on the path to college and career readiness."

Children Now

"We are thrilled that the Harkin-Miller bill is being introduced and reflects the very well-established opportunity our country has to better support young children's early learning." – Ted Lempert, President of Children Now


"The bill has the potential to serve as a great equalizer for our nation's children. We all know that the earlier we reach children with quality education, the better," said Celia C. Ayala, chief executive officer for LAUP. "Within any individual city or state, you can have vastly different experiences in the preschool classroom when it comes to what the children are doing and learning, what their environment is like, or how parents are engaged."

Advancement Project

"The Advancement Project is excited to see leaders from both sides of the aisle coming together to make our country stronger by introducing legislation that invests in our youngest children.  On average, 80% of young children in Los Angeles county ages from 0-5 lack opportunities for early education. We can and must do better for the next generation.  We applaud President Obama, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Representatives George Miller (D-CA), and Richard Hanna (R-NY) for championing early learning and putting us on a path towards giving all of our children a fair chance to succeed in K-12 and later life." – Kim Pattillo Brownson, Director of Educational Equity

Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

"Ensuring that our youngest learners are school ready and prepared to enter the 21st century workforce is critical.  The Strong Start for America's Children Act is a stepping stone that will allow California and other states help address the achievement gap and risk of high school dropout, which originate early in life and become very costly to society in the long run." – Gary Toebben, President


"ZERO TO THREE applauds Senator Harkin and Representatives Miller and Hanna for their efforts on this significant legislation. The early years are critical to brain development, with the most growth and development occurring during the first three years of life. Dedicating a portion of the bill to infants and toddlers means that more of California's 1.5 million infants and toddlers will be able to access to high-quality childcare that supports healthy development." – Tahra Goraya, Director, ZERO TO THREE Western Office


Francisco Oaxaca