Letters to Lawmakers | May 20, 2024

Mission: Readiness Letter to Congress

Retired Admirals and Generals Call on Congress to Invest in Child Care

Dear Members of Congress,

The strength of our country depends on a strong military. This is a significant challenge since 77 percent of today’s young adults ages 17 to 24 cannot qualify for military service because they are not academically prepared, are too overweight, or have a record of crime or drug abuse.

Representing Mission: Readiness, an organization of over 800 retired admirals and generals, we cannot accept the status quo for our national security or our nation’s young people. For the past 15 years, Mission: Readiness has championed evidence-based, bipartisan state and federal public policy solutions that are proven to prepare our youth to be ready and able to serve their nation in any way they choose. At the top of this list are solutions that help ensure a strong start in the earliest years of a child’s life. Decades of research have shown the short- and long-term benefits of high-quality early childhood programs for children’s development, including addressing factors that can later disqualify youth from military service. We know that quality early childhood care and education lays the foundation upon which all later learning and success are built, helping kids to grow up healthy, productive, and crime-free. Early childhood programs can also serve as essential venues for promoting healthy habits, such as good nutrition and physical activity.

However, despite these documented benefits, interrelated challenges around child care access, affordability, and quality have resulted in a crisis that now costs our nation $122 billion in lost earnings, productivity, and revenue every year.

To help counteract these challenges, we urge Congress to prioritize additional funding to expand the following programs:

  • Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Program - Provides states with funding to help low-income families secure child care. CCDBG requires parents to be working or attending school or job training.

  • Head Start/Early Head Start (HS/EHS) - Designed to promote school readiness for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers at no cost to families in poverty.

  • Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) - Available to states and territories and are designed to improve states’ existing early childhood systems that support children from birth through age 5 and their families. PDG can also strengthen the capacity of states’ early childhood workforce through providing professional development opportunities, onsite coaching to teachers, and creating policies to provide pay parity with K-12 teachers. 1025 Connecticut Avenue NW / Suite 1100 / Washington, DC 20036

Protecting and strengthening these strategic early childhood investments can help preserve our national security and prepare our youth to serve their nation in any way they choose.

Download the letter with list of signatories

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