Early Childhood

Ads Aim to Build Political Support

By Christina A. Samuels — April 21, 2009 1 min read

An advocacy group for children and youths has mounted a media effort aimed at federal lawmakers from four states, urging them to vote for President Barack Obama’s proposed 2010 budget because of the increased funding it would provide for early-childhood programs.

The Every Child Matters Education Fund has aired the TV ads nationally and in three states: Louisiana, Maine, and Nebraska. Vote Kids, an affiliated group, paid for ads in Kentucky.

The ads refer to a “child safety net” that includes Head Start, Early Head Start for infants and toddlers under age 3, and the federal child-care and -development block grant, which helps provide affordable day-care options for working families. They can be seen at www.everychildmatters.org.

Michael R. Petit, the president of the Every Child Matters Education Fund, based in Washington, said the U.S. senators from Maine, Olympia J. Snowe and Susan M. Collins, both moderate Republicans, are important swing votes for Mr. Obama.

In Nebraska, the organization is hoping to influence U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, a moderate Democrat, and Republican Sen. Mike Johanns, both of whom have voted against the president’s economic-stimulus package.

The Kentucky and Louisiana ads are aimed at Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Rep. Joseph Cao, a Republican from Louisiana recently elected in a Democratic-leaning district.

The $787 billion economic-stimulus package already has provided a boost in funding to some programs aimed at young children. Head Start and Early Head Start will receive $2.1 billion over two years, and the child-care grant program will receive $2 billion over two years.

Mr. Petit also cited the passage of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program in February, which expanded health insurance to more children in families that have modest incomes but make too much to qualify for Medicaid.

“We want to make sure we pass a budget that starts to close the investment gap” in childhood programs, he said. The House and the Senate have approved fiscal 2010 budget blueprints and are working out differences in a conference committee.

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A version of this article appeared in the April 22, 2009 edition of Education Week

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