Marian Wright Edelman: Investments in Early Childhood are a Giant Step Forward for ChildrenWASHINGTON, April 10, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Children's Defense Fund (CDF) praises President Obama's FY 2014 budget investments in early childhood development and education to ensure all children in America are ready to learn and have a foundation for future success. The $2.05 billion investment in quality preschool and full-day kindergarten coupled with efforts to strengthen voluntary home visiting programs, child care, Early Head Start and Head Start are all part of the early care and education continuum critical to preparing young children for school and life. There is an additional $1.4 billion investment in new Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships designed to expand access to full-day and full-year care for infants and toddlers. Smaller increases are proposed for Head Start and the Child Care and Development Fund to strengthen these programs. "The President's more than $4 billion investment in early childhood development and education is a giant step forward for children. I applaud the President's investments that will help prepare all of our children to compete in this 21 st century global economy. Research is clear about what a difference these investments can make for children. Poor children critically need these investments to level the playing field across the country and provide the foundation for success they need to survive and thrive," said Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund. Increasing access to preschool for low-income 4-year-olds and promoting full-day kindergarten will help fix a broken step in helping every child to learn. Today, only 3 percent of eligible infants and toddlers receive Early Head Start. Only 48 percent of poor children are ready to learn at age 5. A majority of all fourth and eighth grade public school students, more than 75 percent of Hispanic and more than 80 percent of Black children cannot read or do math at grade level. President Obama's budget recognizes what economists, researchers and business leaders have known for years—investments in quality early childhood programs are not only good investments in children, but also essential investments in America's future.