Wade Nelson, 312.835.5317
UPDATED: Friday, Jan. 17, 2014Carla D. Thompson, vice president – program strategy, issued the following statement.
The passage of the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill by the House of Representatives and the Senate is welcome news for children and families. For too long, the threats and impacts of federal budget sequestration have left many of the children most in need without access to early childhood education and have eroded short- and long-term economic security for families and communities.
This bipartisan agreement will alleviate some, but not all, of the harmful impacts of sequestration on children and families. This legislation comes at a particularly meaningful time for our nation – just one week past the 50th anniversary of the declaration of the War on Poverty.
For the first time in a long time, Congress is making much-needed investments in our nation’s littlest learners through early childhood education. The Head Start program, including Early Head Start (EHS) and EHS-Child Care partnerships, will receive more than $1 billion in this legislation – $600 million above the amount needed to eliminate sequestration cuts.
We’ve long recognized the benefits of investing in children early to allow them to realize their fullest potential. Starting at birth, children are profoundly shaped by the social, cognitive and physical conditions of their environment – of which early learning is just one part but one which is so integral to all aspects of a child’s development.
Early childhood education programs can produce strong academic and economic outcomes, help close the achievement gap and give all children a fair chance at success. And that work must also foster connections between educational programs and other efforts in the areas of food, health and family economic security.
Our investments in education and learning are grounded in strong economic research and are most effective because they have been developed in partnership with communities. Investments in early childhood education have helped to overcome racial and economic barriers for families across the country – and are critical components in eliminating the vicious cycle of poverty.
We know more work needs to be done, but that this investment is a great start – and we look forward to continued progress and investment in this issue.
We applaud Congress for its leadership in making these investments in the nation’s future. We hope the time of sequestration, government shutdowns and political standoffs is over. Attention should now be paid to ensuring our nation’s children and families have the best chance to succeed.
About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to help break the cycle of poverty by removing barriers based on race or income that hold back children, so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.
The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Mich., and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti.