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Hearing of the US Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Children and Families Subcommittee - Examining the Importance of High-Quality Childhood Programs

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Location: Washington DC

Mikulski Hosts Hearing on Importance of Quality Early Childhood Development Programs to Long-Term Economic Success of Nation

U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Chairwoman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Children and Families Subcommittee, today hosted a hearing examining how high-quality early childhood programs like Head Start and Early Head Start have proven long-term economic payoffs, including higher income, reduced crime, better health and a larger, more qualified workforce.

"We all know the moral arguments behind investing in children, but we must also examine the economic and academic benefits of quality early childhood education and care," Senator Mikulski said. "Programs such as Head Start and Early Head Start have proven long-term economic payoffs, such as higher income and higher tax revenues, less crime, decreased referrals for special education, better health, reductions in welfare use, less child abuse, increased worker productivity and a larger, more qualified workforce. Studies have shown that for every $1 we invest in high-quality early childhood development programs, our society sees a return on investment of $16 -- predominantly because of lower crime costs."

Witnesses included: Joan Lombardi, an early childhood development expert at the Administration for Children & Families; Dennis Hillian, family service coordinator at the Charles County Judy Center who works with young children day in and day out; Linda K. Smith, a former Department of Defense staffer who works at the National Association of Child Care Resources and Referral Agencies to ensure every child has access to high-quality affordable child care; Arthur J. Rolnick, an economist and former senior vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis who has looked closely at the economic return on investment of early childhood development programs; Eva Tansky Blum, a senior vice president at PNC Bank who believes so strongly in the ability of high-quality early childhood development programs to improve the future of our nation's businesses that her company has taken steps to invest $100 million of their own money to support early childhood education programs; and Charlie "Chuck" Mills III, an alumnus of the Head Start program who is now the founder and CEO of a successful financial services and business consulting firm who credits the Head Start program for much of his success.

Senator Mikulski's statement, as prepared for delivery, follows:

"I am pleased to convene this subcommittee's first hearing of the 112th Congress on an issue that is very important to me and many members of this subcommittee. Today we will be talking about the importance of supporting our nation's next generation -- ensuring we are giving our children every chance to succeed and our nation every chance to prosper. The title of today's hearing is, 'Getting the Most Bang for the Buck: Quality Early Education and Care.'

"I would like to begin by thanking Ranking Member Burr. It is important to note that this is not a partisan hearing, with Democratic witnesses and Republican witnesses. Senator Burr and I worked together very closely, as we have many times over the years, to agree on all the witnesses.

"Senator Burr and I go way back, and I'm so pleased that he is ranking member on the Children & Families Subcommittee. I also want to thank Senator Burr for introducing legislation that requires comprehensive background checks for licensed care and for those who receive Child Care and Development Block Grant dollars. I've worked with Senator Burr on this issue over the years and I look forward to working with him on his bill.

"I would also like to thank Senator Franken, who has a particular interest in the issues we'll be discussing today. Senator Franken and I have been talking about the economic benefits of investing in children at a very young age for a number of months now, and I'm so pleased we were able to make this hearing happen. I thank Senator Franken for all his help.

"I want to thank Senator Casey for all his advocacy and work on behalf of children, and especially for introducing two bills this week that will increase access and improve the quality of early child care for our nation's most vulnerable children. I look forward to working with him on these bills.

"Finally, I would like to thank all our witnesses for their participation in today's hearing and for all their hard work to improve the lives of children across the country.

"Today's hearing is particularly timely given the ongoing debate across our nation about how best to tackle our nation's debt and deficit. The conversations happening right now are so important because we must be frugal. We must find a way to live within our means. We must cut the excess and the unnecessary. But we must not cut what works, and we must not cut the programs that give our next generation the greatest chance at success and our country the greatest chance at prosperity.

"What we will hear from the witnesses today is that providing our nation's youngest children with high-quality early childhood development programs is the best way to improve their individual futures and our collective economic future.

"We all know the moral arguments behind investing in children, but we must also examine the economic and academic benefits of quality early childhood education and care. Programs such as "Head Start and Early Head Start have proven long-term economic payoffs, such as higher income and higher tax revenues, less crime, decreased referrals for special education, better health, reductions in welfare use, less child abuse, increased worker productivity and a larger, more qualified workforce. Studies have shown that for every $1 we invest in high-quality early childhood development programs, our society sees a return on investment of $16 -- predominantly because of lower crime costs.

"Investing in children at a very young age makes sense from a moral perspective because we are a nation that does not turn our back on those most in need. It makes sense from a business perspective because we are a nation that is constantly working to support our businesses. And one way to help our large and small businesses is to ensure they have a qualified and productive workforce.

"It makes sense from an economic and academic perspective because we are a nation that understands reductions in crime, juvenile detention rates and welfare use, and increases in high-school and college graduation rates -- as well as higher incomes and home-ownership rates that will help our nation prosper.

"All our witnesses are from varied backgrounds and political leanings. However, all believe in the importance of early childhood development programs."


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