Letter: Invest in early learning programs

As someone who has worked in the early childhood education field for 35 years, it is safe to say that I understand the impact of quality early education. I am also a mother of three and grandmother of soon to be three.

The first five years of a child’s life are critical to their development and their future.

Here in Iowa, too many children miss out on early learning opportunities. Last year 42,000 three and four-year-old children did not attend preschool. For these children, especially those from lower income homes, they often start school up to 18 months behind those who did attend preschool.

That missed opportunity can have consequences far beyond kindergarten. Children living in poverty who don’t participate in high-quality early education programs are 25 percent more likely to drop out of school and 60 percent more likely to never attend college.

For these reasons, I urge Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst to invest in early learning programs like Head Start and Preschool Development Grants as they consider Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations.

Investing in young children today helps create a better tomorrow for all of us.

Cathy Meyer

Cedar Rapids

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