In a letter to President Obama, CEC, together with its Division on Early Childhood, have called on the Administration to support meaningful partnerships between pre-kindergarten and other early learning proposals and programs that serve young children with disabilities, namely IDEA’s early intervention and preschool programs.
The CEC and DEC letter comes in response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech, whereby he called for expanding access to pre-kindergarten and the Administration’s early education plan, which was released on February 14, 2013. CEC and DEC applaud the Administration for its leadership and commitment to supporting a continuum of high-quality early learning opportunities for children from birth to age five.
The Administration’s early education plan highlighted many areas of critical importance to implementing a coordinated approach to providing early learning opportunities, including:
- Improve quality and expanding access to preschool to enable all low- and moderate-income four-year olds from families at or below 200% of poverty.
- Focus on high-quality programs through state-level standards for early learning, qualified preschool teachers, and a plan to implement data and assessment systems.
- Expand the availability of full-day kindergarten.
- Grow the federal investment in the Head Start program
- Launch a new Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership program
- Expand the evidenced-based home visiting initiative
- New investments to expand access and quality in the Child Care and Development Block Grant
Although this plan represents a starting point, CEC and DEC have expressed the importance of involving programs that serve infants, toddlers, and young children with disabilities at the forefront of planning and during the program implementation to ensure that young children with disabilities have meaningful access to early learning programs.
Additionally, CEC and DEC call on the Administration to increase the investment in both IDEA’s early intervention (Part C) and preschool (sec. 619) programs. The President is expected to unveil his budget to Congress during the week of April 8.
Check back for regular updates as the Administration’s proposal evolves!