By: Savannah Now (Savannah Morning News)
Funding for early childhood education and affordable quality child care have been marked among the top priorities for President-elect Joe Biden.
Access to free, high-quality pre-kindergarten programs for all 3- and 4-year old children is specifically listed as a program Biden would like to see funded.
Georgia is already ahead of the curve on this with its free, lottery-funded pre-kindergarten program. According to decal.ga.gov, more than 80,000 children are currently enrolled in the program statewide. The program enjoys wide, bipartisan support.
A recent poll by Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students (GEEARS) shows that Georgia voters, regardless of party affiliation or whether there are children in the home, strongly support continued and increased funding for early childhood education.
“We know that Georgians have bipartisan support for these issues but we also feel like it’s a result of the work that we and our partners have done over the past 10 years,” explained Mindy Binderman, executive director of GEEARS. “We’ve really built this foundation that now, more than ever, in the middle of a pandemic, can show that Georgians care about these issues; and they want and support investments and support candidates that believe in [early childhood education] issues.”
Polling indicated that support among Georgians for the state’s lottery-funded pre-kindergarten program continues to grow — from 80% in 2018 to 91% in 2020. Moving forward, GEEARS is saying to policymakers that support for early childhood education — especially programs that close the achievement gap between affluent children and children from middle- and low-income families — is a priority.
“In a divided political environment, support for early learning is consistently strong and overwhelmingly bipartisan,” Binderman added. “These results show that voters support family-friendly policies. This support is consistent across political parties, gender, and whether or not they have a young child at home. Voters want candidates and policymakers to address gaps in access and quality.”
Binderman continued, “As Congress considers how to assist Americans during the COVD-19 pandemic, Georgia voters say ensuring that working families have access to quality, affordable child care should be a priority.”