The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

August 1, 2013

Early childhood programs like those in Garfield County find considerable support in the U.S.

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — A survey released this week by First Five Years Fund, a Chicago- and Washington-based early education advocacy group, shows that programs similar to those active in Garfield County are considered a high priority with voters across the nation.

Their survey found a significant majority of people contacted support a plan to help states provide better early childhood education programs to give all children the foundation for success.

The survey of 800 registered voters found that 70 percent favored providing all low- and moderate-income 4-year-olds with voluntary access to high-quality preschool programs, making available more early education and child-care programs for infants and toddlers, and home-visiting and parent-education programs for families.

“American voters clearly understand that if we want our children to have a strong start in life, we need the country to make serious investments in early childhood education — and to make those investments now rather than later,” said Kris Perry, FFYF executive director. “Congress should listen to the will of the electorate and take action by giving states the funding and flexibility to build high-quality early childhood education programs that will reduce social costs and strengthen the economy.”

Renee Hoover, coordinator of Smart Start Northwest Oklahoma, noted Oklahoma already is a leader in offering such programs.

“We’re already, as a state, doing things pretty well,” Hoover said.

Hoover said Enid Public Schools’ pre-kindergarten program, along with the Parents as Teachers program and Smart Start program operated by Community Development Support Association, address the concerns raised by FFYF.

“We’re fortunate here,” Hoover said.

FFYF’s survey showed that ensuring children get a strong start follows closely behind increasing jobs and economic growth as priorities among the people surveyed.

A large percentage — 70 percent — said America “needs to do more” to prepare children for future success, FFYF said. This includes 77 percent of those who have children and 66 percent and those who do not.

The survey was conducted July 8-11 by Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research on behalf of FFYF.