Early childhood education

Note: This page is a reproduction of the Hillary for America policy proposal on early childhood education. 

Expanding early childhood education has been close to Hillary Clinton’s heart throughout her career. As first lady of Arkansas, she introduced the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program, which helps parents teach their children at home before they begin kindergarten. As a U.S. senator, she called for a national initiative to help establish high-quality pre-K programs, including providing pre-K at no cost to children from low-income homes and homes with limited English speaking. As president, Hillary will continue to fight to give every child access to a quality education, starting with our youngest learners.

As president, Hillary will:

  • Make preschool universal for every 4-year-old in America. Despite research showing its benefits, only about half of the roughly 8.1 million 3- and 4-year-olds in the United States are enrolled in preschool, with only one in four enrolled in publicly funded preschool. Hillary believes that every child deserves the same strong start. That’s why she will work to ensure that every 4-year-old in America has access to high-quality preschool in the next 10 years.
  • Significantly increase child care investments so that no family in America has to pay more than 10 percent of its income to afford high-quality child care. The cost of child care has increased by nearly 25 percent during the past decade, while the wages of working families have stagnated. While families across America are stretched by skyrocketing costs, child care has become more important than ever before—both as a critical work support for the changing structure of American families and as an essential component of a child’s early development. These high costs severely squeeze working families, prevent too many children from getting a healthy start, and act as a disincentive for parents to stay in the workforce. Hillary will fight for every family in America to have access to high quality, affordable child care by significantly increasing the federal government’s investment in child care subsidies and providing tax relief for the cost of child care to working families.
  • Improve the quality of child care and early learning by giving a RAISE to America’s child care workforce. One of the key drivers of high-quality child care is a supported and effective child care workforce. Yet, despite the high cost of child care, too many workers are not receiving a living wage, which fuels turnover and undermines the quality of care—and also causes many of those caring for and educating our children to live in poverty themselves. To increase the quality of child care in America and pay child care workers for the true value of their work, Hillary will create the Respect and Increased Salaries for Early Childhood Educators (RAISE) initiative. In line with Clinton’s Care Workers Initiative, RAISE will fund and support states and local communities that work to increase the compensation of child care providers and early educators and provide equity with kindergarten teachers by investing in educational opportunities, career ladders, and professional salaries.
  • Double our investment in Early Head Start and the Early Head Start–Child Care Partnership program. Early Head Start provides comprehensive services to our youngest learners and their families—including health, nutrition, and pre-literacy support with a strong focus on children’s social and emotional development. The Early Head Start–Child Care Partnership program brings Early Head Start’s evidence-based curriculum into the child care setting to provide comprehensive, full-day, high-quality services to low-income families. To ensure our children have a strong foundation to learn, Hillary will double the number of children served by Early Head Start and the Early Head Start–Child Care Partnership program.
  • Expand access to evidence-based home visiting programs. There is increasing scientific evidence that brain development in the earliest years of childhood is crucial to economic success. That’s why Hillary will double our investment in home visiting programs such as the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program. These programs—which provide home visits by a social worker or nurse during and directly after pregnancy—significantly improve maternal and child health, development, and learning.
    Award scholarships of up to $1,500 per year to help as many as 1 million student parents afford high-quality child care. More than 25 percent of all college students are balancing school with raising a child. We should support them, not only because the economic benefit of a college degree lifts their own earning prospects, but also because it lifts the future earnings of their children too. To support America’s student parents, Hillary will launch the Student Parents in America Raising Kids (SPARK) program. SPARK will award scholarships of up to $1,500 per year to as many as 1 million student parents. Recipients can use the awards for costs that create barriers to success—including child care and emergency financial aid.
  • Increase access to high-quality child care on college campuses by serving an additional 250,000 children. Student parents face many challenges, with greater financial and time constraints than many of their peers. College students who are parents leave school with an average debt that is 25 percent higher than non-parents. The demands of parenting mean that student parents spend two hours less on average per day on educational activities. And while nearly half of student parents attend two-year colleges, less than half of all two-year college campuses in America offer on-campus child care services. Student parents need our support. Hillary will work to dramatically increase access to child care on campus by increasing funding for campus-based child care centers.