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Mark Shriver

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A Rising Tide in Fight Against Childhood Poverty

Posted: 02/29/2012 12:45 pm

Earlier this month, The Huffington Post partnered with Save the Children's U.S. Programs for an amazing series of blog posts about the nearly 1 in 4 kids living in poverty in the United States today.

Artists like Julianne Moore, Jennifer Garner, Randy Jackson and Mark Ruffalo shared their personal experiences and the paths they took to becoming advocates.

Senator Bob Casey, former Senator Bill Frist, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and Congressman Chris Van Hollen wrote about the importance of a national investment in fighting childhood poverty, including in early childhood education.

We also heard from two state attorneys general -- Mississippi's Jim Hood and Arkansas' Dustin McDaniel -- on the roles the states play in fighting poverty. Also blogging were former President Bush's communications director, a top Google executive and other faith and advocacy leaders.

Just days later, President Obama added his voice too -- not on the pages of the Huffington Post but in his fiscal 2013 budget proposal. His budget plan includes across-the-board increases in our national investment in early childhood education, which remains the key to helping break the cycle of poverty.

The budget includes an expansion of Head Start that would enroll a total of nearly a million kids in the program. The budget also provides almost $1 billion for improved quality child care programs and ensures better early childhood programs for kids with special needs.

While much of official Washington says the budget has little chance of passage, it does send an important message about the priority we must place on early childhood education. The science behind the power of early childhood education is overwhelming. Not only is it proven to ensure a lifetime of academic success but, if fully funded, it could add $2 trillion to our Gross Domestic Product within a generation, according to The Brookings Institute.

The leadership of President Obama, Secretaries Arne Duncan and Kathleen Sebelius as well as the new Director of the Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Munoz made this important blueprint happen.

And the budget plan follows a recent $500 million investment from the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant. These funds are a meaningful first step toward making sure quality early education in this country reaches more kids.

Now, the Huffington Post's new Breakdown campaign represents an extraordinary journalistic investment in poverty in America, adding to the incredible array of voices on this issue. Indeed, the volume is cranked up high on early childhood education. Whether or not our leaders listen is up to the American people.

 
 
 

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