Letters to Lawmakers | June 28, 2017

Letter to Appropriators: Pastors Urge Funding of Early Childhood Programs

The pastors and ministry leaders of Shepherding the Next Generation urge lawmakers to fund early childhood education programs

The following letter was sent to all members of the United States House and Senate Appropriations Committees, and contains more than 150 signatures of Evangelical pastors and ministry leaders calling for continued funding for high-quality early childhood education programs.

Dear House and Senate Appropriators,

SHEPHERDING THE NEXT GENERATION is a network of evangelical pastors and ministry leaders who have come together to amplify biblically-based and effective approaches to strengthen families and communities. We believe deeply in the role of the church to care for the most vulnerable among us. Much of this important work is done close to home in our congregations and throughout our neighborhoods, and we ask for your partnership in this work. As pastors and ministry leaders, we urge your continued support for young children and families in the Fiscal Year 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations bill through investments in Head Start, the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), and Preschool Development Grants.

The Bible teaches us that God created the family to be the primary place for educating a child (Dt. 6:4-9; Ps. 78:5-8; Eph. 6:4). However, some parents face challenges with child-rearing, often lacking the knowledge, resources, or the support of a spouse to raise their children. Programs that provide early learning and care, like Head Start, CCDBG, and state preschool programs direct support to the most at-risk, economically vulnerable families first. These supports not only help parents who may be struggling to make ends meet, but also better prepare children to be ready for school.

Helping impoverished children succeed in school is tremendously important. Without access to high-quality programs, most of these children will start kindergarten behind their classmates. Moreover, research shows that participation in early learning and care programs can have a profound impact on children beyond the early years. For example, a long-term study of the Perry Preschool program in Michigan showed that program participants were significantly more likely to graduate high school. Additionally, men who had participated in the program as children were twice as likely to raise their own children. In contrast, boys in the control group of the study who had not attended the preschool were five times more likely to be chronic criminal offenders by age 27 than the boys who did attend.

We thank you for your past support of these important programs that help families in need. We urge you to continue to prioritize and protect funding for Head Start, CCDBG, and Preschool Development Grants in the FY18 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.

…I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.

(Jeremiah 3:15)

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