National Survey Finds Overwhelming Support for Public Investments in Early Learning

Jeffersontown, KY – Kentucky Youth Advocates joins the First Five Years Fund today in releasing the results of a national survey of voters which finds that a significant majority of Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike support a plan to help states and local communities provide better early childhood education programs to parents of children from birth to age five, ensuring that all children get a strong start in life.

Conducted by the bipartisan research team of Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research, the national telephone survey of 800 registered voters found that 70 percent of Americans favored providing all low- and moderate-income 4-year-olds with voluntary access to high-quality preschool programs as well as making available more early education and child care programs for infants and toddlers and home visiting and parent education programs for families.

 

“At a time in which there is much disagreement in Frankfort and in Washington, this report represents an opportunity for making progress together. The overwhelming majority of voters have found common ground – supporting the youngest of children. Those voters agree that all children need to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to start kindergarten—and life—on the right foot and want the country to do more to achieve this goal,” said Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates. “With such a broad base of support, we urge Congress to make quality early childhood programs a priority without adding to the deficit. It is also a reminder to Kentucky lawmakers that the Commonwealth’s citizens expect Frankfort to make an investment in children’s learning and care during the preschool years.”

Support for the proposal increased to 77 percent when respondents were told explicitly that it would not add to the deficit, including 72 percent support from Republicans, 71 percent from Independents and 88 percent from Democrats. A majority of voters (51 percent) strongly support such a proposal.

Other findings from the survey include:

  • Ensuring children get a strong start in life was seen as an important national priority by 86 percent of respondents—second only to increasing jobs and economic growth—and 13 points higher than reducing the tax burden on families.
  • Voters say the country is not doing enough on this issue, with 70 percent saying it is an area we need to “do more.” This includes large majorities of voters who have children (77 percent) and those who do not have children in their household (66 percent). Virtually no one (2 percent) thinks we’re doing too much already.
  • In addition to support from large majorities of voters across the political spectrum, key demographic groups are in support of the proposal, including Hispanics (83 percent), African Americans (82 percent), suburban women (68 percent) and young voters under the age of 35 (79 percent).

Voters also want Congress to take action now. Three in five voters (63 percent) want Congress to act now rather than wait until later (32 percent). And even when presented with an impassioned argument from both supporters and critics of making such an investment in quality, voluntary early childhood learning and child care, Americans continue to express their overwhelming support of the proposal.

The survey was conducted from July 8-11 by the bipartisan research team of Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research on behalf of the First Five Years Fund. The demographically representative sample was distributed proportionally throughout the country and reached registered voters on landlines and cell phones. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.46 percentage points.

“These polling results have implications for Kentucky’s Congressional delegation around federal level action, and we also have to continue to remind state leaders of the voters’ expectations,” added Brooks. “In the midst of state cuts that are hurting Kentucky families, we need to stop raining on kids and fund kids first. This includes funding quality early learning opportunities. Voters have spoken. The only question is whether Kentucky’s elected leaders at the federal and state levels will respond with commitment and financial supports around an issue in which 70% of voters have found consensus.”

More information on the poll results can be found here or by visiting http://www.ffyf.org/.

To schedule an interview, please contact Andrea Bennett at abennett@kyyouth.org or 502-381-1176.