Issue Background

Early Education

For more information on Early Education, please visit the following resource page:

Public Policy Agenda Early Education webinar: Discusses National PTA's position and recommendations regarding early education as outlined in the Public Policy Agenda.

In a competitive global economy, the education of our nation’s children must begin long before they enter school. The evidence is clear: providing effective, targeted supports and interventions to children and parents starting at birth will prepare our nation’s children for later academic and career success. Studies have shown that students who complete high-quality prekindergarten education or similar early childhood programs achieve at higher levels, including increasing high school graduation rates by 31 percent, college attendance by more than 80 percent, and employment by 23 percent. The benefits extend to physical well-being as well: students who attend preschool are more likely to go to a doctor, receive appropriate health screenings and immunizations, and receive dental care. 

In addition, high quality early education programs should be affordable for low-income families. From 2009-2011, an average 63 percent of low-income 3- and 4-year-olds in the US did not attend a preschool program as compared to 45 percent of children from higher-income households. But research indicates that high-quality pre-kindergarten, especially for disadvantaged children, can lead to a decreased need for special education services and interventions during a child’s academic career.

PTA supports federal and state incentives for high-quality child care and preschool programs for children ages 0 to 5. These programs should be affordable and accessible; developmentally appropriate; coordinated at all levels (federal, state, and local); and characterized by high standards for teaching, training, health, and safety. Additionally, the PTA strongly encourages the inclusion of a strong family engagement component into all early childhood education programs.

Currently, there are several vehicles within Congress, the U.S. Department of Education (ED), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to meet the needs of young children and their families, including the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Child Care and Development Block Grant, Head Start/Early Head Start and the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. National PTA will continue to advocate in Congress to strengthen early childhood education programs that further the success of our earliest learners.