Results from a new bipartisan poll released today by the First Five Years Fund (FFYF), in partnership with the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCEF), find that voters of all parties share a top national priority: investing in early childhood education.
“Support for early childhood education is strong – and growing stronger. This year’s poll results confirm that voters across the country see access to quality early childhood education as a necessity for today’s families, and critical to the future success of their children,” said Kris Perry, Executive Director of the First Five Years Fund. “For the first time in our three years of polling, American voters’ top priority is making sure children get a strong start in life, a concern equal to improving the overall quality of public education.”
Over three-fourths of American voters support increasing federal investment to help states expand access to high-quality early childhood programs for low-and moderate-income families – 59% of Republicans, 69% of Independents, and 94% of Democrats.
These results are particularly relevant in North Carolina, where only 35% of fourth graders and 22% of students from economically disadvantaged families scored at or above reading proficiency on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in 2013. Grade-level reading is achievable with policies and practices that reflect reading is a cumulative process developing from birth and rooted in early brain development. NCECF and its partners – NC Child, The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc., and BEST NC – are convening state leaders and literacy, child development and health experts to define North Carolina’s birth-to-eight measures of success that put children on an early pathway to grade-level reading success.
“Voters understand the importance of early childhood education and want to see greater investments to support quality early learning opportunities,” said Tracy Zimmerman, Executive Director at NCECF. “Smart investments in young children produce the best outcomes in education, health and economic well-being for North Carolina and the nation.”
The poll results show that early learning efforts like those in North Carolina are serving the needs of American families, as 88% of voters agree that with families often needing two incomes to get by and many single parents working more than one job, access to quality early childhood education is a necessity—not a luxury.
Additional findings from the national poll are highlighted below:
- 89% of likely voters agree that we need to ensure more children have early learning and socialization experiences during the first five years of life.
- 74% of voters are willing to fund this investment through short-term increases in the federal deficit, as long as that investment pays for itself in the long-term – something quality early childhood education has proven to accomplish. This supporting group includes 59% of Republican voters.
- 84% of voters believe a candidate who supports early childhood education is looking out for working-and middle-class families.
The poll was commissioned by the First Five Years Fund and conducted by the bipartisan polling team of Public Opinions Strategies (R) and Hart Research (D). 800 voters throughout the country were surveyed on both landline and cell phones. The survey was fielded September 1-5, 2015 and has an overall margin of error of +/-3.46%. The sample was distributed proportionately throughout the country and is demographically representative of the national electorate.