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The FBI’s Peter Strzok spends 10 hours in open testimony in Congress. Also on the Friday rundown: Granite Staters protest AG Sessions' approach to fighting opioid abuse, and Latino Conservation Week starts on Saturday.

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Day of Action Launches Campaign for Early Learning

PHOTO: Today (Wednesday) is a national Early Learning Day of Action. Arizona Child Care Assn. Director Bruce Liggett says the first years of a child’s life are critical for development, and for success later in life. Courtesy of ACCA.
PHOTO: Today (Wednesday) is a national Early Learning Day of Action. Arizona Child Care Assn. Director Bruce Liggett says the first years of a child’s life are critical for development, and for success later in life. Courtesy of ACCA.
June 5, 2013

PHOENIX - Today is a national Early Learning Day of Action, kicking off a campaign to draw attention to the benefits of early childhood education and to support additional funding at both the national and local levels.

"Numerous studies have shown that children who are enrolled in high-quality early education go on to perform better in school," said Bruce Liggett, executive director of the Arizona Child Care Association. "They're more likely to graduate from high school and go to college and be in good health, and less likely to be involved with crime or turn to welfare."

One campaign goal, Liggett said, is passage of President Obama's Early Care and Education Initiative, which would provide $75 billion over the next 10 years to expand quality pre-kindergarten to all 4-year-olds, starting with low- and moderate-income families, through state and federal partnerships.

Obama's initiative also would expand opportunities for children through age 3 in such programs as Early Head Start. Liggett said these are critically needed in Arizona, which ranks 49th among the states for the number of children enrolled in preschool.

"Only 33 percent of our 3- and 4-year-olds go to preschool," Liggett said. "The census data clearly shows that when parents can afford, they do place their children in preschool settings. So, we've got a large number of children who are disadvantaged, who aren't getting to school ready to learn."

Liggett said child care is another important economic benefit that helps lower-income families and single mothers lead successful lives.

"What's clear is that we can't just provide part-time, part-day preschool programs," he said. "We need to also meet the needs of working families. So, these programs need to be full-year and full-day. Funds that are being proposed in Washington now would address that need."

Although acknowledging that the Early Care and Education Initiative will likely be tough to pass in today's budget-cutting environment in Congress, Liggett said the measure is self-funded through an increase in federal tobacco taxes.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ