Testimony from HELP Hearing Reveals Need for Greater Investment in Early Childhood Education
At Hearing Prompted by Sen. Franken, Noted Economist Testifies on Widespread Benefits of Further Investment
Today, at a hearing held by the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Subcommittee on Children and Families, witnesses, including Dr. Art Rolnick, an economist, former senior vice president and director of research of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and Senior Fellow and Co-Director of the Human Capital Research Collaborative at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, testified that greater investment in Early Childhood Education would pay for itself and improve our nation’s economic outlook in a number of ways. Sen. Al Franken requested the hearing and arranged for Dr. Rolnick to testify because he is widely recognized as an expert on the costs and benefits of early childhood education.
“The testimony of Dr. Rolnick and our other expert witnesses highlighted the importance of investment in early childhood education,” said Sen. Franken. “This hearing made it clear that early childhood education has an incredible return on investment: it brings down crime rates, improves health outcomes, raises high school graduation rates, and reduces dependence on welfare. As we make tough budget decisions, investing in early childhood education is one of the smartest choices we can make.”
Sen. Franken has been a long time advocate for early childhood education and care, introducing as an original cosponsor several key pieces of legislation including the Supporting State Systems of Early Learning Act (based on President Obama's Early Learning Challenge Fund proposal) and the Prepare All Kids Act (which would provide funding to states for prekindergarten). Today, he introduced the Ready to Learn Act with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) to help states fund preschool. He is also currently leading an effort in the Senate to secure federal funding for early childhood education that would allow programs to sustain services and make quality improvements.
Investments in early childhood education produce an enormous return on investment and lower our deficit in the long run. In fact, research has shown the return on investment of high-quality early childhood programs to be up to $16 for every $1 invested. That’s because youth who attend these programs are more likely to graduate from high school, attend college, and obtain employment, and they are less likely to commit crimes, experience teen pregnancy, and rely on public benefits. These improved outcomes lead to tremendous savings for federal, state, and local governments.
Video of Dr. Rolnick’s full testimony, including questioning by Sen. Franken, is available here.