National survey finds strong support for public investments in early learning

Contact: Cecilia Zalkind, Executive Director, Advocates for Children of New Jersey, 973-643-3876  •

Download the survey fact sheet.

WASHINGTON – The First Five Years Fund today released the results of a national survey of voters which finds that a significant majority of Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike support a plan to help states and local communities provide better early childhood education programs to parents of children from birth to age five, ensuring that all children get a strong start in life.

Conducted by the bipartisan research team of Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research, the national telephone survey of 800 registered voters found that 70 percent of Americans favored providing all low- and moderate-income 4-year-olds with voluntary access to high-quality preschool programs as well as making available more early education and child care programs for infants and toddlers and home visiting and parent education programs for families. FirstFiveYearsInfographic

“Voters rightly perceive a need for all children to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to start kindergarten—and life—on the right foot and want the country to do more, now, to achieve this goal,” said Cecilia Zalkind, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey. “With such a broad base of support, we urge Congress to take action and give states the funding and flexibility to build high quality early childhood education programs without adding to the deficit.”

Support for the proposal increased to 77 percent when respondents were told explicitly that the proposal would not add to the deficit, including 72 percent support from Republicans, 71 percent from Independents and 88 percent from Democrats. A majority of voters (51 percent) strongly support such a proposal.   Other findings from the survey include:

  • Ensuring children get a strong start in life was seen as an important national priority by 86 percent of respondents—second only to increasing jobs and economic growth—and 13 points higher than reducing the tax burden on families.
  • Voters say the country is not doing enough on this issue, with 70 percent saying it is an area we need to “do more.” This includes large majorities of voters who have children (77 percent) and those who do not have children in their household (66 percent). Virtually no one (2 percent) thinks we’re doing too much already.
  • In addition to support from large majorities of voters across the political spectrum, key demographic groups are in support of the proposal, including Hispanics (83 percent), African Americans (82 percent), suburban women (68 percent) and young voters under the age of 35 (79 percent).

Voters also want Congress to take action now. Three in five voters (63 percent) want Congress to act on legislation now rather than wait until later (32 percent). And even when presented with an impassioned argument from both supporters and critics of making such an investment in quality, voluntary early childhood learning and child care, Americans continue to express their overwhelming support of the proposal.

The survey was conducted from July 8-11 by the bipartisan research team of Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research on behalf of FFYF. The demographically representative sample was distributed proportionally throughout the country and reached registered voters on landlines and cell phones. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.46 percentage points.


Advocates for Children of New Jersey is a statewide child research and action organization and the New Jersey Kids Count grantee.