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Iowa’s children deserve the best in their first 2,000 days

To the Editor:

One school year has just ended, and parents of young children are going to preschool graduations and preparing for entry into kindergarten. Iowa has moved forward, helping our children with high quality child care, Early Head Start and Head Start, Shared Visions, and State Voluntary Preschool Programs. But too many children still lack the school readiness and positive development experiences that serve them well, not only for success in elementary school, but also success in the workplace, home, and community.

There are 2000 days from a child’s birth to when he/she enters kindergarten. The return on the public investment is compelling. For every dollar spent on high quality preschool programs, Iowa taxpayers will spend less on special education, juvenile crime and school dropouts. President Obama has called for a state-federal partnership to accelerate and expand the work we’ve done for Iowa’s children. Let’s not let another school year begin with quality early childhood education for just some of Iowa’s children. All of them deserve the opportunity, and Iowa deserves a smart investment of our public resources. Let’s urge Congress not to let another year go by without all of Iowa’s children accessing a quality early childhood education experience.

Barb Merrill

Executive Director, Iowa Association for Education of Young Children

Des Moines