Senator Udall Leads Push to Expand Access to Early Childhood Education

U.S. Senator Tom Udall has announced that he has joined several senators in introducing legislation to expand access to high-quality early learning programs for children from birth to age five. The Providing Resources Early for Kids (PRE-K) Act helps more kids arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed by establishing a federal-state partnership that incentivizes states to improve the quality of their preschool programs and expand to serve more children in need.

“Investing in our children’s education from a young age pays off – not just by making sure every child is ready for kindergarten, but by laying the foundation that ensures they grow up ready to succeed in the 21st-century economy,” Udall said. “But too many families in New Mexico can’t find quality early childhood education programs, and we owe it to our kids to do better. Our bill will empower the state of New Mexico to hire and train new early educators, expand existing preschool programs to serve more families, and improve access across the state. High-quality early education is a gateway to opportunity, and every child deserves their fair shot.”

A recent White House report summarizes what decades of research has shown: high-quality early learning yields more than $8 for every $1 invested by helping kids learn to read on time, stay in school, avoid crime, get good jobs, pay taxes, and avoid other social services later in life.

The PRE-K Act creates a new federal-state partnership to improve state preschool programs and expand to serve more children in need. States that already have a high-quality preschool program could get grants to improve quality and expand to serve more children. Other states with small or newer programs could apply for startup funds if they submit a plan to establish a high-quality preschool program within two years. PRE-K Act funds could help states hire and train early educators, expand preschool days and hours, or provide comprehensive services such as health screenings and meals.

The PRE-K Act was introduced by Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) and was also cosponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).