January 29, 2015

Kaine Introduces Pre-K Act To Expand Access To Early Childhood Education

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine introduced the Providing Resources Early for Kids (PRE-K) Act, legislation to expand access to high-quality early learning programs for children from birth to age five. The PRE-K Act will help more kids enter kindergarten ready to succeed by establishing federal-state partnerships that incentivize states to both improve the quality of state preschool programs and expand those programs to serve more children in need.  

“Expanding access to early childhood education helps close the achievement gap and prepare students for a lifetime of learning,” said Senator Kaine, who expanded the Virginia Preschool Initiative as Governor. “To keep our economy strong, we need a long-term plan that produces the best workforce in the world. A key step in growing our talented workforce is ensuring that all children are prepared to enter school ready to learn. Last year, I successfully urged the U.S. Department of Education to give Virginia a $17.5 million Preschool Development Grant to expand high-quality preschool programs for children from low and moderate income families. The PRE-K Act would build upon this grant, providing Virginia and the nation with opportunities to strengthen and expand our preschools.”

The PRE-K Act creates a new federal-state partnership to improve state preschool programs and expand current programs to serve more children in need. States with small or newer programs could apply for startup funds if they submit a plan to establish a high-quality preschool program within two years. PRE-K Act funds could help states hire and train early educators, expand preschool days and hours, or provide comprehensive services such as health screenings and meals.

Kaine has been a long-time champion of access to quality early learning programs. As Governor, he championed early childhood education by increasing Pre-K enrollment by 40 percent in the Commonwealth. As a Senator, he introduced the Strong Start for America’s Children Act in the last Congress to expand access to high-quality early learning programs for children under the age of five.

Kaine introduced the PRE-K Act with the following cosponsors: Mazie Hirono, Sherrod Brown, Dick Durbin, Kirsten Gillibrand, Brian Schatz and Ron Wyden.

Similar legislation is also being introduced in the House by Reps. Mark Pocan and Mike Honda.

The PRE-K Act of 2015 has been endorsed by the following national organizations:

  • American Association of School Administrators (AASA)
  • American Association of University Women (AAUW)
  • American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
  • Association of Education Service Agencies (AESA)
  • Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)
  • Council of Administrators of Special Education - CEC
  • Early Care and Education Consortium
  • First Focus Campaign for Children
  • Good Beginnings Alliance
  • HighScope Educational Research Foundation
  • Learning Disabilities Association of America
  • National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
  • National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE)
  • National Education Association (NEA)
  • National Rural Education Advocacy Coalition (NREAC)
  • National Women’s Law Center (NWLC)
  • Parents As Teachers
  • School Social Work Association of America (SSWA)

###