April 14, 2016


Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) will launch the first-ever Congressional Pre-K Caucus. Rep. Castro is a co-chair of the bipartisan group, which seeks to gain a deeper understanding of the benefits of early childhood education and promote policy recommendations to expand high-quality pre-k access in the United States. Congressman Richard Hanna (NY-22), Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-05), and Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) are also co-chairs, and will join Rep. Castro in launching the Pre-K Caucus at an event with Sesame Workshop President and CEO Jeffrey Dunn, Elmo, and Cookie Monster this afternoon. Currently, the caucus has 26 members, including Committee on Education & The Workforce Ranking Member Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03). 

“Completing high-quality pre-kindergarten sets kids up to succeed academically and professionally,” said Rep. Castro. “Investing in our kids early on will yield long-term benefits for our nation by strengthening our future workforce and increasing America’s competitiveness around the world. I look forward to working with my fellow co-chairs and other Pre-K Caucus members to highlight the value of high-quality pre-kindergarten and identify policies that will increase early learning in the United States.”

Last year, Congressman Castro introduced the Pre-K for USA Act, legislation that creates new prekindergarten development grants and provides school districts and local government entities with a direct line to federal funding, eliminating their reliance on states to access federal pre-k dollars. In recent years, the state of Texas eliminated $200 million in pre-k expansion grants and missed out on more than $118 million of federal prekindergarten funding. Across the country, cities and counties are implementing their own programs to support prekindergarten, including Pre-K 4 SA in San Antonio, which has been a model for the nation.

“Expanding access to early education should be a priority for Congress,” added Rep. Castro. “This caucus aims to increase awareness of high-quality pre-k’s benefits and energize conversations on Capitol Hill around ways we can help all young Americans enroll in early education.”

“Access to affordable, high quality early childhood education is as close to a silver bullet as we are going to find to solve our economic challenges,” said Rep. Clark. “We started the Pre-K Caucus because our investments in our youngest learners are the strongest investments we can make in the future successes of our economy.”

“The success of future generations depends on the investment made in our children during the earliest and most formative years,” said Rep. Cole. “When kids are given the opportunity to build an early foundation for learning, they are much more likely to thrive in education at every grade thereafter. That’s why I’m proud to partner with my colleagues in launching the bipartisan Pre-K Caucus, which will draw important attention to the benefits of early childhood education.”

“High-quality early learning guarantees a reduction in spending on entitlements, welfare and incarceration,” Rep. Hanna said. “It also lowers obesity rates, helping to reduce healthcare costs. By focusing on early education we can begin to break the back of intergenerational poverty, producing more taxpayers and a more competitive America through a better-educated, growing middle class. We cannot guarantee every child equal success in life, but we can promise them the opportunity to be successful. I hope this Congressional Pre-K Caucus is the beginning of a sustained bipartisan conversation on how expanding access to early education will make our economy more competitive and ensure each child has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. One in four children starts their life in poverty. Through our efforts, we can help ensure their lives do not end in poverty.”