At a recent forum held by the Center for American Progress, New York Times columnist Gail Collins said, “If there was going to be a cause that would hook the general needs of society with the most pressing needs of women with something that virtually everyone in the universe agrees with….it would be early childhood education.” Collins noted that early education addresses numerous challenges, from income inequality to parents’ need for child care while they work. Yet she also said that early education isn’t getting the attention it deserves. Today and in the days ahead, a broad coalition of advocates, policy makers, economists, and business leaders will be trying to change that. We are working together to make sure this issue that is so important to our country’s children, families, and economic vitality is brought to the top of the national agenda.

The President has provided an opportunity to raise the profile of this issue with his groundbreaking plan for early care and education. His plan would invest in high-quality preschool for four-year-olds—starting with children from low- and moderate-income families—through state-federal partnerships; high-quality early care and education for infants and toddlers through partnerships between Early Head Start and child care; and voluntary home visiting to support vulnerable families and their young children.

This plan would be one of the wisest investments we could make. High-quality child care and early education strengthen the current and future workforce by enabling parents to work productively and giving children a strong start in school and life. Yet this is not just about abstract economic arguments. This is about a young child gaining a love of learning, enjoying a book, getting excited about counting the toys in front of them. This is about whether all children will get the chance they deserve to succeed.